Nashville awarded new MLS expansion club
Nashville has been awarded an expansion team by Major League Soccer, the league confirmed on Wednesday.
MLS commissioner Don Garber, state governor Bill Haslam, and Nashville mayor Megan Barry were on hand to announce the Tennessee city as the league's 24th team.
"The success of our league, which has continued to soar over the last decade, is driven by innovative and dedicated ownership, by world-class soccer stadiums, by visionary management, and culturally diverse communities with a true passion for the game," Garber told a news conference.
"There is no doubt that we have all of and more in the city of Nashville."
MLS previously announced Nashville, Cincinnati, Sacramento and Detroit as the finalists for two expansion franchises to be awarded by the end of the year. The league's board of governors met to discuss the candidates last week, after each bid group made a two-hour presentation to the board in New York.
Welcome to MLS, Nashville. pic.twitter.com/Uw2RZV4K1G-- Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 20, 2017
Nashville has generally been considered the front-runner among the finalists, with an ownership group led by local billionaire John Ingram also including minority partners from the Wilf family, which owns the Minnesota Vikings.
The city has also secured local government approval for a new, football-specific stadium, set to open by 2021.
"This is a landmark day for Nashville and for all of the loyal and ardent soccer advocates in our state and our region," said Ingram. "During the last year, with the support of our partners, the fans, and civic and community leaders, we were able to make a strong case for why Major League Soccer belonged in the great sports town of Nashville.
"Thank you MLS owners and commissioner Garber for your confidence in us. We will have a team that everyone can be proud of, and we will take a leadership role in enhancing the growth of the sport in a region that already has a passionate soccer culture. Nashville is going to be a very worthy addition to MLS."
It is still unclear whether the new team would begin to play in 2021 or start a year earlier in a temporary facility.