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Geodis Park stages first MLS game

The largest soccer-specific stadium in the US is officially open after Nashville SC christened Geodis Park with a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union on Sunday.

A sellout crowd of 30,109 watched on as the home side secured a point with five minutes to go after Randall Leal scored from the penalty spot.

Nashville SC was forced to play its first eight matches of the 2022 MLS season away from home while work on Geodis Park was completed. The club will now play six of its next eight matches at home.

Nashville SC joined MLS in 2020 and spent its first two seasons playing home games at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Geodis Park was built at a cost of $335m (£267m/€319m) and was completed one month ahead of schedule.

In March, French logistics company Geodis signed on as the naming-rights sponsor of the stadium. Geodis will receive prominent brand exposure on the stadium’s exterior, interior and rooftop, as well as flagship signage above the main entrance.

Geodis Park features a 360-degree canopy, a 65-foot-wide shared concourse and a safe standing supporters’ section. Just 150 feet of distance separates the last row in Geodis Park and the touchline.

The stadium is also set to host concerts and community activities, and serve as a hub for Nashville-area businesses to use throughout the year. Around 20,000 season tickets had been sold ahead of the stadium’s opening, with all private suites, loge boxes and its three largest clubs also selling out.

Sunday’s result extended Nashville SC’s unbeaten home run to 20 matches. Real Salt Lake will be the next visitor to Geodis Park on Sunday.

Head coach Gary Smith said: “The most important piece of the puzzle for us starting this new phase of our world in this wonderful stadium was not to get beat today. Of course we want to win, but we had to find resilience to at least get something out of the game. Which the guys did. It’s not a fairytale, but it was a wonderful atmosphere.”

He added: “If there’s a way to make sure we have 30,000 people here every week, well, we play a big part in that. If we play well and we entertain, the supporters will turn up. The atmosphere was terrific. Having been in some very good environments, that was as good as anywhere I’ve been.”