We have a battle brewing over the future of Greer Stadium, former home to minor-league baseball in Nashville, as two soccer teams are waging a war of words over a potential lease.
The battle began when the owner of the Harrisburg City Islanders, a USL Pro team, approached Metro (the Nashville city government) about a potential lease at Greer Stadium. Soon to be the former home of the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) after the opening of a new ballpark in April, Greer Stadium was a mediocre baseball facility the past few years. But, with some TLC, it certainly could be converted to a very usable USL Pro home in the future.
Hold on a second, said leaders of Nashville FC: We’re in the market and we’re interested in Greer Stadium as well. In terms of soccer hierarchy, USL Pro is considered to be like Double-A, while Nashville’s FC league, National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), is more akin to Class A. And while Nashville FC doesn’t have a long history — it began play at Vanderbilt in 2014 after a 2013 formation — but it is unique in that it’s backed by 300 fan donors, who pay either $75 or $150 for the privilege of team ownership. It’s set up as a nonprofit. Nashville FC leaders say they were blindsided by the Metro discussions with Harrisburg City Islanders, and Nashville FC President Chris Jones issued the following statement:
“When I first read the article I immediately felt a level of disrespect for our club and our members; then it turned to feeling sorry for those in Harrisburg who have supported that club for all those years. Leveraging a city like that goes against everything we stand for at Nashville FC, and to think the local soccer community would just turn a blind eye is a bit arrogant on their part. We’ve worked very hard to create a first class NPSL organization and first class product on game days. Our supporters recognize that and we love them for it. Furthermore, we do have ambitious goals of reaching the pro levels in the next couple of years.”
The logical course of action, of course, would be to join forces in some way. And that’s the , per The Tennessean:
[City Islanders owner Eric Pettis] stressed the early nature of discussions when asked why he didn’t notify Nashville’s existing team.
“I totally understand their passion for the game and admire it,” Pettis said. “But certainly, if this continues to move forward, they would be one of my first phone calls. It’s just been a little preliminary to reach out to these folks.
“We’re looking forward to continuing the discussion and would really hope to be a value added to not only the soccer community, but the whole community.”
At the end of the day, the issue is whether Greer Stadium can work for pro soccer and whether a team can afford to play there.