In 2017, Nashville was selected as one of two cities as expansion franchises for the 25th and 26th team in the history of Major League Soccer.
As of Feb. 13, construction for Nashville SC’s stadium was finally approved and set to begin construction. Before the deal was finalized, members of Tennessee state legislature were present at the Tennessee Press Association.
Among the three key speakers was Tennessee state governor Bill Lee. Although the governor was hesitant when answering questions on the state of the franchise, he was consistent in expressing the lack of state involvement in the deal.
“The state hasn’t really been involved in the stadium process.”Governor Bill Lee
“The state hasn’t really been involved in the stadium process,” Lee said. “Those issues will have to be worked out between the developers and the mayor’s office. We haven’t been involved in those conversations.”
Hours before the new deal was officially announced, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and speaker of the house Cameron Sexton were in attendance for the conference as well. McNally seemed confident in Nashville’s capability to complete a deal.
“I think the state has made some commitments, and I think the state will keep those commitments,” said McNally. “As far as what we intend to do to help that project along, I think it’s an important project for Nashville. I think there has been a little bit of concern at the local level…I don’t think we’d be in a position to do much more than what we’ve already committed to.”
The major roadblock in the stadium’s development was the location of the Tennessee state fairgrounds: a group behind the preservation of the historic destination, “Save Our Fairgrounds,” had protested the prospect of Nashville SC building a stadium in the preferred home for the soccer club.
In the new deal, Mayor Cooper negotiated a “general statement of principles for parcel 8C in the 10-acre mixed-use development to account for an open plaza that can serve the operational needs of multiple Fairgrounds uses.”
Also included in the stadium’s contract are another general statement of principles, which are to be in agreement for the reconstruction of the Fairgrounds Speedway Racetrack. The racetrack would be in attempts to return NASCAR to Nashville, something Cooper and Speedway Motorsports discussed earlier in the month, according to The Tennessean.
The stadium is expected to hold 30,000 and will play host in the 2022 season for Nashville SC. Until then, fans can view matches at Nissan Stadium. Nashville SC will begin their first MLS season Saturday, Feb. 29 at Mercedes-Benz stadium against Atlanta United FC.