NASL, USL Pitch Nashville Pro Soccer Expansion

Nipper Stadium Cincinnati

Nashville pro soccer is once again under consideration, as both the NASL and USL have approached city officials about possible venues for expansion teams in coming years.

Last year two soccer teams — the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL and NPSL’s Nashville FC pitched the city on a potential Greer Stadium lease to house Nashville pro soccer. Greer Stadium is the former home of the Nashville Sounds (Pacific Coast League) minor-league baseball team, but the facility sits empty after the team’s move to downtown First Tennessee Park.

The latest discussions of Nashville pro soccer come from the USL and the NASL, which have both been steadily expanding in recent years. It’s a logical move for both league, who are competing for new markets. However, there have not been many instances where the leagues are directly competing for a new market — which makes this situation interesting. From The Tennessean:

“Nearly six years ago the USL embarked on a mission to create the most sophisticated, best operated and most competitive soccer league under MLS and has achieved that mission with a deliberate business plan that includes expansion,” John Griffin, senior director of communications of the USL, said in an email.

“The USL has interest in Nashville and has identified the city as a vibrant market with considerable interest in soccer.”

NASL spokesman Neal Malone gave similar praise for Nashville and also confirmed the league’s interest.

“We absolutely believe Nashville would be a great fit for the NASL,” Malone said. “It’s home to a robust soccer community and it has a reputation for being an excellent sports city. We feel that there would be a lot of support, and you see that already with Nashville FC.”

The facilities situation would need to be addressed before any team moves in. Apparently Greer Stadium has deteriorated to the point where city officials are recommending it be demolished, so an alternative soccer stadium must be chosen. The USL is seeking a temporary venue at Ted Rhodes Park, while an NASL investor group has toured First Tennessee Park and Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Nissan Stadium may be a tad large for NASL play, and the Sounds ownership may not be thrilled about sharing First Tennessee Park — though Triple-A ballparks hosting minor-league soccer is turning into a thing.

No word on a timeline, but if the facility issue is solved, a new team in either league could launch in 2017.

Photo of FC Cincinnati crowd at Nippert Stadium courtesy of the team.

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