Hopes for an MLS franchise in Nashville received a nice boost over the weekend, as a major crowd turned out for a match at Nissan Stadium.
On Saturday, the home of the Tennessee Titans hosted a match between Mexico and New Zealand that drew 40,287 spectators. That was the second largest crowd for a soccer game in Tennessee history, with a match last year between the U.S. men’s national team and Guatemala setting the record with 44,825 fans.
When coupled, those games certainly signal a growing level of enthusiasm for the sport in Nashville. However, there are still a lot of moving pieces when it comes to the Music City’s soccer hopes.
Former state economic development official Bill Hagerty is leading an organizing committee that, among other tasks, is looking into options for a new soccer-specific stadium and trying building broader community support. Officials from Nashville SC, which is slated to begin play in the USL in 2018, recently joined forces with Hagerty, but that franchise is also in the process of its own stadium search.
Certainly there is more work that needs to take place for Nashville to further its case for the MLS, but the turnout on Saturday caught the attention of the soccer world. More from The Tennessean:
“People look at this – the folks at MLS notice, promoters notice, investors with deep pockets notice,” said Gabe Gabor, press officer for MLS and Soccer United Marketing. “In general, the soccer world notices that Nashville is becoming a soccer city.
“There are many factors that go into it, but obviously you need a passionate fan base, which Nashville certainly is on its way to building with Nashville SC.”
It wasn’t just the size of the crowd that drew the eye of ESPN FC’s Tom Marshall – who’s been covering the Mexican team for the past five years – but the way that the city of Nashville embraced the contest.
“I thought (attendance) would be pretty poor to be honest, but I think there’s definitely a buzz around the city with the game and just in general,” said the British-born Marshall. “People are really enjoying themselves here.
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