MLS expansion race: Nashville comes from back of pack with 'unprecedented' bid

Wednesday was Nashville's day in the soccer spotlight as Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and Nashville Megan Barry were on hand at the Country Music Hall of Fame for MLS commissioner Don Garber's announcement that the Music City was awarded the league's 24th franchise.

“There’s no doubt," Garber said, "and everyone in our country knows this, that Nashville is a city on the rise."

Garber termed Nashville's bid "unprecedented." Indeed, it came out of nowhere -- it wasn't until August 2016 that an MLS steering committee, including Bill Hagerty, who has since become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, was even formed -- and Garber admitted a year ago during an expansion update with the media that Nashville was behind other bidders.

In less than a year, local businessman John Ingram put together an ownership group that includes Minnesota Vikings owners Mark, Zygi and Leonard Wilf and the Turner family, managing partners of Nashville-based MarketStreet Enterprises, as co-investors.

In rapid-fire succession ...

-- In January, Barry came forward with a stadium site -- at Fairgrounds Nashville.
-- In May, Ingram's Nashville Soccer Holdings bought a majority stake in the group, DMD Soccer, that will launch Nashville SC in the USL next year.
-- In July, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam held a dinner for Garber, who was in Nashville for the USA-Panama Gold Cup game, and lobbied the MLS commissioner about the merits of Nashville.
-- In August, Ingram went before the Metro Nashville city council for the first time to present his plans for soccer and for the stadium.
-- In early November, the city council voted 31-6 to approve a $275 million plan for a 27,500-seat soccer stadium at Fairgrounds Nashville.

In the beginning of the year, St. Louis and San Diego were the hot expansion candidates, but they did not even make the final four, while Nashville beat Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento across the finish line. And it shouldn't be forgotten that as MLS's 24th team, Nashville also beat out Miami, which was first announced as a possible 24th team in February 2014.

On Thursday, Garber said MLS will explain what is next in terms of expansion, specifically the timing on naming the second expansion team from among Cincinnati, Detroit and Sacramento.

"We are also making a lot of progress in Miami," Garber said, "and we're hopeful that we're going to be able to bring that team over the finish line. That will bring three new teams into the league and we need to figure out how we're going to stage those teams."

7 comments about "MLS expansion race: Nashville comes from back of pack with 'unprecedented' bid".
  1. Ben Myers, December 21, 2017 at 7:42 a.m.

    And, once again, a city goes nuts and expects to spend ridiculous money to attract a pro sports team.  When will taxpayers get fed up?

  2. Lonaka K, December 21, 2017 at 8:01 a.m.

    A good example of my comment to my grandchildren.  Its not who starts the game but whoi there at the end.  Too many individuals are eager to be a starter but is not there to celebrate when victory is secured.  

  3. John Soares, December 21, 2017 at 1:06 p.m.

    Congratulations Nashville! After 4 years and multiple turn downs by residents and goverment entities why is Garber so insistant on Miami. They have said NO in many ways. Remember what happen to the last MLS team Miami "did" have!? MR. Garber put your support in the cties that want a team AND are ready to move forward. 

  4. beautiful game, December 22, 2017 at 11:16 a.m.

    This means more mediocre players on the pitch.

  5. John Soares replied, December 22, 2017 at 4:08 p.m.

    No, it means more opportunities.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, December 23, 2017 at 6:24 a.m.

    Yes, there is a likihood of growth outpacing the availability of quality players, but remember Chicago Fire's first season. The teams have a long enough lead time to identify and recruit quality players.

  7. Ric Fonseca, December 23, 2017 at 4:07 p.m.

    Mr. Myers, so long as there are pro sports in this country, from baseball to football (American and futbol) there will be people e.g. tax payers - who will flock to the stadia.

    I w:  Are you the "soccer grinch," or what?  Oh yes folks of very little faith!!! 

    Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays and Happy Kwanza!!!

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