I was wondering if Nashville was going to try to get another professional sports team for the Music City. It appears that they now have their sights on an expansion team in Major League Soccer (MLS). Various news reports state that Nashville mayor Megan Barry has allocated $50 million in proposed revenue bonds for a soccer stadium. Most MLS teams have built their own soccer-specific stadiums. MLS is going to expand to 24 teams next season and add four more teams later. Nashville supporters are hoping to be in the latter group before MLS holds at 28 teams.
The Nashville MLS committee is made up of 22 people and includes executives from almost all of the city’s biggest companies. So there appears to be some serious backing for this.
The next question is: Can Nashville support a professional soccer team?
I think it is very possible that the MLS can succeed in Nashville. There is a lull in sports here between hockey and football seasons so an MLS team could fill that void. Although we have the Nashville Sounds AAA baseball here, an MLS team would still be a good fit for the area. The city has turned out for Team USA games at Nissan Stadium. Although Nissan Stadium is a good home for an expansion team, Nashville may follow suit with other MLS teams to build their own soccer-specific homes. There had been some talk of remodeling Herschel Greer Stadium which is the former home of the Nashville Sounds.
The MLS is expanding to Atlanta (2017) and Minnesota (2017 or 2018), Los Angeles (2018) and Miami (2018).
Personally, I am concerned about the MLS expanding so much. The league has succeeded beyond expectations but there is still a concern that its’ popularity isn’t growing that much. Maybe I’m wrong but soccer leagues have had a poor history in the United States.
Nashville currently has a soccer team with Nashville FC which began play in 2013 in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The NPSL is a national amateur league. Nashville FC plays their home games at Vanderbilt Stadium. Nashville FC will evolve to the United Soccer Leagues (USL) in 2018 so it will be interesting to see what happens if Nashville secures an MLS franchise.
Past Nashville soccer teams:
Nashville Diamonds, American Soccer League (1982)
Nashville Metros, Premier Development League (1989-2012)