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Nashville unveils proposed 30,000-seat stadium and plans for MLS expansion bid

Major League Soccer (MLS) hopeful Nashville has released renderings for a 30,000-seat stadium, as well as its expansion bid plans.

The Tennessee city is seeking to earn an MLS expansion franchise, which its stadium plans have been at the heart of.

Nashville SC currently plays in the second tier United Soccer League. Due to the absence of a promotion and relegation system in North America, any club wishing to compete in the top-tier MLS must apply for an expansion franchise.

The Nashville bid is not directly linked with the USL team, but John Ingram, who is also leading the MLS bid, owns the franchise. The partnership between Ingram and Nashville SC is seen as an effort to present a united front to MLS.

The proposed stadium will be based at the Fairgrounds Nashville, a piece of city-owned property just south of downtown that is the current home of a racetrack, a small arena and other facilities.

The 30,000-capacity preliminary arena will be at the centrepiece of a “private-public partnership,” Ingram said. The size “is a combination of what we think about the future growth of MLS and if it works out that another tenant could use the facility,” he added.

The financial details and design of the stadium have not been released, while no construction timeline or completion date have been revealed.

Ingram said that getting the green light in December, when two MLS expansion franchises are awarded, “would be a goal, if we can do that. That’s certainly what our goal would be. We’ll find out during this process if we can achieve that.”

MLS has pledged to add four additional expansion teams and has said it expects to name members No. 25 and 26 in December.

Ingram added on the design of the stadium: “I would say our hope has been to try to emphasise function over form. Not that we don’t want to have a pretty stadium – (we’d like) something that would hopefully be aesthetically pleasing – but not something that looks like it was dropped from outer space.”

He said he envisioned a stadium that was “architecturally consistent” with structures found around the rest of the city. Architectural firm HOK, which is the designer of MLS team San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium and the soon-to-open Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, produced the renderings.

Other cities vying for an MLS expansion franchise in December include Charlotte (North Carolina), Cincinnati (Ohio), Detroit (Michigan), Indianapolis (Indiana), Phoenix (Arizona), Raleigh/Durham (North Carolina), Sacramento (California), San Antonio (Texas), San Diego (California), St. Louis (Missouri) and Tampa/St. Petersburg (Florida).

Images: HOK