John Ingram Backing Nashville’s Expansion Bid


Businessman John Ingram has officially backed Nashville’s MLS expansion pursuit, as he will lead the city’s bid. 

Ingram is coming to the process with deep ties to Nashville, as he is the chairman of Ingram Industries and his holdings are based in the area.  At this point, his backing could be critical for Nashville, as it offers a clearer picture of the city’s plan at a point where it needs to strengthen its case.

Nashville was named one of 10 finalists for MLS expansion last week. While there has been some momentum in the Music City for a franchise, it is one of several markets in the Southeast that is in the mix, and it must solidify its stadium effort. A Tennessee lawmaker recently introduced a bill that could lead to state assistance in the stadium’s construction, but numerous details relating to the facility’s funding still need to be addressed.

Having Ingram on board is key to enhancing the bid both in the MLS’ eyes and locally, according to Bill Hagerty, who has been leading the city’s MLS Steering Community. Hagerty plans to work with Ingram, whose main task is to oversee investment in the franchise. More from The Tennessean:

His status as lead owner complements an effort started by Nashville businessman Bill Hagerty in August with the creation of the Nashville MLS Steering Committee, a coalition of two dozen political and business leaders that has pushed for an MLS expansion team in Music City.

Hagerty, former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development under Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, and the rest of the steering committee intend to continue actively supporting Nashville’s MLS bid. But it will be an investor group led by Ingram that plans to formally submit Nashville’s application ahead of a fast-approaching Jan. 31 deadline.

Future MLS expansion teams face a record $150 million franchise fee. When factoring in stadium costs, training facilities and other factors, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has estimated the overall financial commitment could rise to $300 million for prospective ownership groups.

“John is a friend and a leader who is making a major statement of support for Nashville and the effort to bring Major League Soccer and the world’s most popular sport to our thriving, growing city,” Hagerty said. “A strong ownership group is the most important component of any MLS bid, and John is the ideal lead investor.”

Expansion for the MLS is expected to take place in phases, as the league adds teams 25-28. Franchises 25 and 26 are expected to join the league by 2020, with the remaining clubs entering at a later date.

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