Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University yesterday (Wednesday) distanced itself from a potential shared-stadium concept with Major League Soccer hopeful Nashville, instead voting to keep its American football home on campus.
The university released a statement yesterday announcing that, while it supports the club’s mission towards MLS status, it could not justify moving football games two miles from the school’s West End campus.
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.
Dudley Field, Vanderbilt’s longtime home stadium, will remain the university’s base for the foreseeable future, though the school is looking into leasing the potential new stadium for one or two football games a year.
“While we plan to continue to support Nashville’s bid for an MLS team, we are not moving Vanderbilt football off campus,” the university’s statement reads. “Dudley Field will remain the home of Commodores football.”
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.
Vanderbilt’s announcement comes only a week or so before prominent businessman and Vanderbilt donor John Ingram and Mayor Megan Barry release a funding proposal for an MLS stadium, which would need approval from Metro Council.
The university’s statement read: “We know a new stadium will be part of the success in bringing MLS to our city. To enhance opportunities for our students to branch out and experience more of Nashville, we are exploring
the opportunity to lease the proposed new soccer stadium for one or two Vanderbilt events per year.
“If it meets the needs of our fans, students, alumni and team, this could also include leasing the stadium for a football game, similar to what we have done in the past with Nissan Stadium, which received a great response from our community.”
MLS has pledged to add four additional expansion teams and has said it expects to name members No. 25 and 26 in December.
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).