The USL will have another expansion team in 2018, as Nashville FC was unveiled Friday, using the logo and color scheme of the current National Premier Soccer League team — but no word on a potential new home for the franchise.
The NASL and USL had been pursuing Nashville (and with good reason — a prime market with the perfect demographics for pro soccer), and the USL was out of the door first. The process was accelerated when DMD Soccer stepped up to acquire the Nashville FC assets in a non-cash deal. The Nashville USL team ownership: DMD Soccer, an investment group that includes David Dill, the President and Chief Operating Officer of LifePoint Health; Marcus Whitney, the President of Jumpstart Foundry, a seed-stage healthcare innovation fund; and Christopher Redhage, co-founder of ProviderTrust.
The press conference, alas, didn’t really provide many details past the name and the branding. The PDL-level Nashville FC is in the midst of the 2016 season, but there were no answers about whether the team would be returning to Vanderbilt University for a final 2017 NPSL season.
And there was little concrete talk about any future team home, though it was noted that USL prefers its teams play out of soccer-specific facilities. Now, we know that’s not totally true: Reno 1868 FC will launch in 2017 playing out of Greater Nevada Field, and there’s no talk of a new soccer-specific stadium there. There are other USL teams playing out of ballparks (Tulsa, Louisville) — some temporarily, some permanently.
So we don’t take the possibility of Nashville FC playing out of a Nashville ballpark past or present off the table. Greer Stadium, former home of the Nashville Sounds, is deteriorating and has been recommended for demolition, but in theory could be renovated for soccer. First Tennessee Park, the current home of the Sounds, is in a perfect urban environment and is the right size for USL play. While a new stadium is a stated goal of the new Nashville FC ownership, anything can happen. From The Tennessean:
“We’re working with the city to start a project for us,” Redhage said. “We’ll be working with them over the next couple of months to determine a plan and design a soccer specific stadium that works for Nashville. It’s got to work for Nashville and the city.”
DMD Soccer has made clear its desire to find a stadium in Davidson County with the assistance of Mayor Barry’s administration. Still, in an interview with The Tennessean, the group did not rule out a surrounding suburb, perhaps Williamson County, as a home.
“There really are some great options about in terms of where the stadium can go, but there are lots of logistics,” said Marcus Whitney, one of the team investors and founder of the tech company Jumpstart Foundry. “We’ve been fairly focused on just closing out this chapter, getting to our announcement on Friday and getting to Nashville FC. We’re in an exploration phase.”
Image of USL action courtesy Louisville City FC.