Major League Soccer expansion franchise Nashville SC has urged members of the public to sign a petition to persuade Mayor John Cooper to sign off plans for its new stadium.
Last month, the club and MLS expressed their “deep disappointment” at delays from Cooper in approving the stadium project. Nashville SC enters MLS this year and will begin playing at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans NFL team, before moving to a 30,500-seat soccer-specific stadium.
The club had hoped to move into the new stadium in time for the 2021 MLS season but Cooper has stalled since October on approving the demolition of the old fairground expo centres, a necessary measure for the stadium to be erected.
A ‘Build The Stadium’ campaign has now been launched and Nashville SC yesterday (Monday) sent a tweet urging supporters to lobby Cooper into approving the project. The tweet included a link to a petition, which can be signed with or without an email being sent to Cooper.
The Tennessean newspaper reported that the club will meet with MLS commissioner Don Garber on Thursday to discuss the stadium plans.
The Tennessean has previously reported that Cooper is keen on making a deal that also includes the Fairgrounds Speedway motor-racing circuit, while also holding concerns that taxpayers will not be liable for related infrastructure costs.
In August, the club released updated renderings of its planned stadium amid cost increases related to the project. The stadium is now expected to cost between $50m (£38.6m/€45.8m) and $70m more than initially planned, although taxpayers are not set to foot the bill.
The stadium had initially been expected to cost $250m, with the city contributing $225m in revenue bonds. The team was set to add an initial $25m capital contribution, while committing to cover all overrun costs along with the $150m expansion fee required by MLS.
Following the launch of the petition, Cooper’s spokesperson Chris Song said in a statement to the Tennessean: “Considering the positive progress of the negotiations with Nashville Soccer Holdings, we’re unsure of the purpose of the petition and surrounding campaign other than to unnecessarily confuse Nashville residents.
“To reiterate, Metro’s commitment to the stadium deal has never been in question. Mayor Cooper remains committed to soccer’s success in Nashville. We look forward to announcing an agreement with Nashville Soccer Holdings.”
Nashville’s new stadium would be the largest soccer-specific venue in MLS.
Image: Nashville SC