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Nashville awarded new MLS expansion club

Nashville awarded new MLS expansion club

Vikings Owners Mark, Zygi and Leonard Wilf, in partnership with John Ingram and Nashville Soccer Holdings, LLC, were awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise on Wednesday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced in Nashville.

"This is a town that really surprised us with 46,000 at the Gold Cup US-Panama match and over 50,000 for the Man City game just a few weeks later", Garber said. Cincinnati has yet to fully finalise its stadium plans despite recently securing public support, although it does have both a solid, wealthy ownership group and a shirt sponsorship deal in place. A decision on the second victor is expected within a few weeks.

The selection of Nashville enhances MLS' Southeast expansion, which has included substantial successes with new clubs in Atlanta and Orlando.

When Nashville starts playing remains to be decided.

"We are making a lot of progress in Miami", Garber said of David Beckham's long-pending team. "Nashville's soccer fans have supported the movement for a Major League Soccer club from the moment the bid was launched, and John Ingram and his partners, the MLS2Nashville Committee, and local leadership worked together to do what was right for our city".

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"This is a landmark day for Nashville and for all of the loyal and ardent soccer advocates in our state and our region", Ingram said.

Welcome to MLS, Nashville.

Though an outsider at the beginning of the expansion process, Nashville's bid gathered momentum throughout the year, receiving a significant boost in November when the city's Metro Council approved a crucial financing plan for a new US$275 million, 27,500-seat soccer-specific stadium to be built in the fairgrounds district south of downtown Nashville. The stadium could open by March 2021, with the bonds only waiting for Nashville to receive an expansion franchise. Sacramento, Cincinnati and Detroit are among the remaining finalists for that other spot with no word as to which of those teams will join Nashville in MLS.

MLS announced in December 2015 that the league's goal is to reach 28 franchises - with Nashville now an official piece of that puzzle.

With the addition of the new MLS team in Nashville, 14 clubs have joined MLS since 2004, fulfilling a vision for strategic expansion that has transformed the landscape of professional soccer across North America.


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