MLS Expansion: Nashville driving force ups ante

Nashville businessman John R. Ingram, who has taken the lead in Nashville's effort to attract an MLS expansion team, has solidified the city's bid by buying a majority stake in the group, DMD Soccer, that will launch Nashville SC in the USL in 2018 via his Nashville Soccer Holdings.

To prepare for the USL launch, Nashville SC will operate Nashville SC U23 in the PDL in 2017. Nashville SC was founded by David Dill, president of LifePoint, and Nashville businessmen Chris Redhage and Marcus Whitney before Nashville entered the expansion race late last year.

“John Ingram has a long history supporting sports in Nashville," said Dill in a statement. "He will be a driving force in Nashville SC’s ownership group as we move our vision forward, which is to provide professional soccer to the region’s passionate fans. Nashville SC has grown from the grassroots, and now John’s commitment speaks volumes about the future of soccer in Nashville and helps Nashville SC grow while unifying soccer interests in our city.”

Nashville SC hired Court Jeske, who previously served as SUM's vice president of international business, as its first president and Gary Smith, who led the Colorado Rapids to the MLS Cup 2010 title, as its first head coach.

“Our effort to bring Major League Soccer to Nashville and the mission of DMD Soccer are now jointly committed to elevate and expand professional soccer in Music City,” Ingram said. “We plan to give Nashville SC fans an exceptional soccer experience, starting with this season’s debut of the Nashville SC U23 amateur team, which will lead to a successful debut in the USL as we continue to grow the game in Nashville at every level.”

Nashville's other lead bidder is Bill Hagerty, Tennessee's former commissioner of economic development and President Donald Trump's nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, succeeding Caroline Kennedy.

Like most bidders, Nashville must still solidify a stadium plan to have any chance of convincing MLS to bring a team to its community.

Mayor Megan Barry favors the construction of a soccer stadium (cost: $110 million) at the Fairgrounds Nashville as part of other work on facilities at the speedway, located south of downtown Nashville. Vanderbilt University has been surveying fans whether they would watch its football team at a soccer stadium.

The first hurdle in the effort to bring MLS to Nashville was passed when the Tennessee's House of Representatives agreed (87-2) to a ticket tax. The bill would allow taxes collected at the soccer stadium be used by the Metro Sports Authority to offset the cost of the stadium. (Both NFL Titans and NHL Predators use ticket taxes to generate funds to pay for venue costs.)

No agreement on a "private-public partnership" Barry favors to pay for the construction of the stadium has been announced.

Nashville will get two shots at showing off local interest in July. The USA will open play at the Gold Cup against Panama as part of a doubleheader on July 8 at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL Titans. Three weeks later, Tottenham and Manchester City will meet their in the International Champions Cup.

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14 comments about "MLS Expansion: Nashville driving force ups ante".
  1. Quarterback TD, May 5, 2017 at 8:29 a.m.

    Not bad.. to be honest I never thought about this city. Why are people using USL as a stepping stone for MLS when they can simply build USL and compete with MLS..

  2. Will Sams replied, May 5, 2017 at 8:36 a.m.

    USL has salary restrictions that would prohibit that. NASL makes more sense, but that hasn't worked out in regards to common sense. We'll see, though. I think if both USL and NASL stay D2 and have their own D3 feeder leagues with pro/rel, that could impact the landscape of American soccer over time. I'm a crazy optimist, though.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 5, 2017 at 10:36 a.m.

    Why would they compete with MLS? What other country has two major soccer leagues? In any event, half the teams in USL are MLS reserve sides.

  4. Quarterback TD replied, May 5, 2017 at 11:37 a.m.

    Fire, What country has the current model that we are using where new teams can directly join into its premier league organization or where a team needs to sneak in via a lower league to get into It's premier league ? You always talking a bunch of trash or comparing things that as irrelevant.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 5, 2017 at 12:03 p.m.

    I think Australia does but USL is working in partnership with MLS not as a competitor. If teams can show, via their support a USL team, they have the fanbase and community support for an MLS team, they can move up. I'd prefer true pro/rel but we aren't ready for it yet. I think we will be in 15-20 years and I think it will happen.

  6. Will Sams, May 5, 2017 at 8:32 a.m.

    One would ask why is perceived as "upping the ante"? As a country, we seem to bee obsessed with the illusion of the almighty dollar. I like Nashville, but would love to see success on the pitch instead of talking about a future move to division 3 as if it's a big deal.

    Pro/rel makes sense for soccer in the U.S.A. "Upping the ante" would be success on the pitch, therefore legitimizing why one should be in MLS.

  7. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 5, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.

    Also USL is now D2 for whatever that is worth.

  8. beautiful game, May 5, 2017 at 10:04 a.m.

    Soccer & Vanderbilt U. football on the same pitch?

  9. Craig Cummings, May 5, 2017 at 10:06 p.m.

    No pro/rel will ever happen in MLS. No self made millionaire or billionaire will invest 300 million one year to see a team worth less 10 million the next season, because that former MLS team is now Div2 team. Just not happening.

  10. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 6, 2017 at 10:52 a.m.

    Yeah, that must be why no rich people invest in European soccer clubs...

  11. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 6, 2017 at 10:53 a.m.

    Also, did you know that teams that are relegated can be promoted back to the top flight? It actually happens all the time.

  12. Paul Cox, May 7, 2017 at 4:07 p.m.

    The problem with the US second division (and below) landscape is that they have pretty low revenues compared with the European nations.

    England's Championship has revenues of several hundred million dollars. Same with Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

    The USL and NASL have per-team revenues MUCH lower than that, and additionally have higher operating costs. Frankly, to get sent to the second division from MLS would be close to a death sentence right now, compared with the amount of money that owners have to put up to join MLS in the first place.

  13. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 8, 2017 at 11:51 a.m.

    Yes, but I'm talking about a second division within MLS.

  14. Craig Cummings, May 9, 2017 at 11 p.m.

    Well said Paul.

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