Looking to join the MLS expansion party, a group of business and civic leaders in Nashville launched an effort to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Music City. As reported on MLS.com, the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee, a 22-member civic organization, made the formal announcement Tuesday, August 9. The group is led by Bill Hagerty, a Nashville businessman and investor. Hagerty is also the former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and a rumored Republican candidate for governor of Tennessee in 2018.
“Our optimism is very, very high about this,” Hagerty said. “The voice of support that we’ve seen from the leadership of this community has been really, really strong.”
Nashville has already been awarded a franchise in the United Soccer League (USL), which is scheduled to begin play in 2018. However, MLS officials earlier this year announced plans to expand to 28 teams in the near future. Hagerty said he and the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee are fully supportive of the USL franchise, but believe they must act now to bring MLS to town rather than slowly work their way up the professional soccer ladder. “We felt like the time is now,” he said, “and if we’re going to do it, we need to go directly for it.”
“We have a shared vision,” Hagerty added. “We’ve got a mayor’s office that is very engaged and motivated to make it happen. We’ve got strong interest from investors. All the pieces, I think, are coming together.”
MLS currently stands at 20 teams and will add a team in Atlanta in 2017, Minnesota in 2017 or 18, Los Angeles in 2018, and a possible future franchise in Miami. That leaves four additional spots available with Sacramento, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, San Antonio, San Diego and, now, Nashville competing for the final spots. Unfortunately, no city from Alabama is currently on the list.