NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a joint statement by the Nashville Soccer Club and Major League, officials expressed their frustration and concern over the delay in the construction of Nashville's soccer stadium.
On Thursday, officials met with Mayor John Cooper at Major League Soccer’s office in New York City to talk about the status of the stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Mayor Cooper that MLS wouldn't have awarded Nashville an expansion team without the commitment made by the city to build a soccer stadium at the Fairgrounds. The Mayor’s continued refusal to proceed is a deep disappointment to Nashville SC and MLS.
The joint statement went on to describe the groups' "deep disappointment" over the mayor's failure to approve demolition and push the process forward.
Nashville was announced as one of 10 finalists to get an expansion team in 2016, which was followed by the announcement of an MLS franchise in Nashville in 2017. Metro Nashville City Council members approved a MLS stadium at the fairgrounds in 2018.
Nashville SC will play their 2020 season at Nissan Stadium. The team was originally slated to play at the new stadium in 2021, but didn't want to have to change stadiums in the middle of the season if it wasn’t completed in time for the 2021 season.
The mayor responded in a statement: "Since entering office four months ago, I’ve worked towards a complete solution for the Fairgrounds that is both financially sustainable and results in a successful, unified site plan. This past week, I met with racing advocates as well as MLS. I appreciate MLS and its advocacy for professional soccer in Nashville. I also appreciate all parties are working together to improve the plan for the entire Fairground, both in design and financing. I will continue to chart a path forward that makes good financial sense for all of Nashville’s taxpayers.”
You can read the full joint MLS-Nashville Soccer Club statement below:
Driven by the excitement of fans around Nashville SC’s opening game and the city’s bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, we couldn’t be more excited about soccer’s potential in Nashville.
Earlier today, we met with Mayor John Cooper at Major League Soccer’s office in New York City to discuss the status of Nashville SC’s stadium project. The new stadium and ancillary development have very broad support throughout Nashville and has been overwhelmingly approved multiple times by Metro Council.
Despite that, Mayor Cooper has not provided approval to begin the demolition to move forward with the stadium project. So, for the past four months, Nashville SC has worked to make the stadium deal even better and has proposed a number of new solutions to satisfy his concerns.
Even with these proposed new solutions, the Mayor today refused to commit to move forward with the demolition and the approved stadium plan. During today’s meeting, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made it clear to Mayor Cooper that Major League Soccer would not have awarded Nashville an expansion team without the commitment made by the city to build a soccer stadium at the Fairgrounds. The Mayor’s continued refusal to proceed is a deep disappointment to Nashville SC and MLS.
Nashville SC has agreed to work with the Mayor’s office over the next week to advance the discussions and finalize a plan to begin the stadium construction project. We hope for a mutually agreeable solution and expect to have an update regarding the project by February 6.