It’s official. Nashville will become the 24th franchise in Major League Soccer.
With four cities competing for two spots, Nashville was the only expansion announcement. MLS has delayed the next announcement until “early 2018.” Cincinnati, Detroit, and Sacramento are all in the running to be selected.
While Nashville was one of the last cities to formally submit their bid for expansion, there were multiple factors in their favor which led to them securing the first slot.
- They got a stadium deal done with local government
- Strong financial backing of their ownership group
- Grassroots support from fans
- Support from the other two professional sports teams in town
They’ll most likely start play in 2020, although there is an outside chance of them starting in 2019 and playing in a temporary venue while their stadium is finished.
A lot has changed since we did our “Soccer Market Rankings” back in early 2016. After the twelve potential expansion cities were announced, we used those rankings to showcase where each of those cities ranks. Nashville was the fifth of twelve, and number 35 overall in the U.S. We’re going to safely assume that they will rise quite a bit higher when we release updated rankings later this year.
It’s way too early to start speculating about who major sponsors will be for the MLS team, including stadium naming rights and jersey sponsor. Nashville does have a strong business community, especially in the healthcare and automotive sectors. The latter industry already has stadium naming rights deals with the two current professional sports teams – Nissan Stadium (NFL’s Tennessee Titans) and Bridgestone Arena (NHL’s Nashville Predators).