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Nashville’s $275 million MLS stadium approved

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Nashville Soccer Club’s soccer-specific stadium has been given the green light.

Late Tuesday the Metro Council gave final approval for the $275 million stadium at Fairgrounds Nashville, as the vote won by a 31-8 margin to get work going south of downtown Nashville.

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After Nashville were awarded an MLS expansion franchise in November 2017, majority owner John Ingram and his group have pushed hard to seal the stadium deal. Ingram, a billionaire businessman, has been successful in making it happen with Mayor David Briley backing the deal heavily.

With some political changes in Tennessee’s capital city over recent months it has proved a little trickier than first through, but a complex deal has now been approved to fund the stadium development as housing, retail and hotel facilities will also be built on the Fairgrounds site.

Below is a little more detail from the Tennessean.com on exactly how this stadium deal will work financially.

Under the stadium plan, the city would pay $225 million in revenue bonds for the stadium while the team would would chip in an initial $25 million capital contribution. The team has committed to cover all cost overruns, and separately is tasked with covering a $150 million expansion fee with MLS.

Under a 30-year stadium lease agreement, the Ingram-led ownership group would pay around $9 million annually to help retire an estimated $13 million in annual debt.

Metro has guaranteed at least $4 million from sales tax revenue collected at the stadium and a $1.75 ticket tax, but the city would be on the hook if those streams don’t create the expected amount.

The 99-year ground lease for the 10-acre development calls for the ownership club to pay a minimum of $200,000 annually for the first 30 years, at which point the amount would escalate, totaling at least $22.8 million over the entire 99 years.

Nashville SC is expected to move into this stadium in February 2021, with the club to arrive in MLS for the 2020 season and play their inaugural season at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

USMNT-Mexico to renew rivalry on Sept. 11

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The USMNT will renew its rivalry with Mexico for the first time since World Cup qualifying when El Tri pays a September 11 visit to Nashville.

Mexico will be coming off its World Cup run, while the U.S. summer consists of friendlies against Bolivia, Ireland, and France.

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The federation did not announce when tickets would go on sale, or how they would be allotted, saying that information will come at a later date.

The U.S. is winless in its last three matches against Mexico, with two losses to go with the 1-1 draw at Estadio Azteca in June 2017.

Theoretically, the Yanks will be facing the Mexico test with a new permanent coach. Dave Sarachan has been running the ship since Bruce Arena resigned after an embarrassing loss at Trinidad and Tobago which kept the U.S. from reaching the World Cup.

Mexico is in tricky World Cup Group F with Germany, South Korea, and Sweden.

MLS franchise in Nashville set to be confirmed

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Music City USA had made plenty of noise. Now the show will begin.

Major League Soccer is heading to Nashville.

A “major announcement” is scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn. with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, John R. Ingram from Nashville Soccer Holdings, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Megan Barry, the mayor of Nashville all in attendance.

Nashville being awarded a MLS expansion franchise is expected to be the announcement with the ownership group stumping up the $150 million expansion fee.

Nashville was one of four cities who were finalists for the next two MLS expansion franchises (including Sacramento, Cincinnati and Detroit) after 12 cities across the U.S. submitted their bids earlier in 2017.

With a rock solid ownership group including the Wilf family (also owners of the Minnesota Vikings) and John Ingram, plus plans for a soccer specific stadium close to downtown at the fairgrounds site, Nashville unexpectedly rocketed to the top of the expansion rankings on the back of success in hosting international games and preseason friendlies in recent months.

On the back of huge support for the Nashville Predators in the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals earlier this year, it was clear that everything is in place for an MLS team to thrive.

Sacramento and Cincinnati will lock horns for the final expansion spot dished out in this round, with Detroit seen as an outsider for the bid.

The future of David Beckham’s franchise in Miami remains up in the air with an ownership change earlier this month, with some suggesting that both Sacramento and Cincinnati should be awarded expansion franchises this time around.

Given the uncertain situation regarding the future of the Columbus Crew in Ohio as owner Anthony Precourt aims to move to Austin, Texas, the south east of the USA is fast becoming a key area for MLS with Atlanta and Orlando, plus a potential Miami franchise.

Two more expansion franchises are expected to be confirmed in 2019 as MLS pushes towards its goal of having 28 teams.

Nashville city council approves financing for MLS stadium

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Nashville’s bid to land an expansion franchise from Major League Soccer now has $275 million in financing approved to build a new stadium, giving Music City a major boost weeks before a final decision from the league.

The Metro Nashville City Council voted 31-6 Tuesday night for $225 million in revenue bonds for the stadium itself and another $50 million in bonds for renovations and improvements around the stadium at the current fairgrounds.

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Nashville Mayor Megan Barry introduced the financing plan Oct. 2, and the council’s vote was the final approval needed for the project.

MLS requires a solid stadium plan for an expansion franchise, and John Ingram, the billionaire businessman who’s the local bid’s lead owner, called the vote a great night for Nashville.

“The vision to bring Major League Soccer to our city moves one step closer,” Ingram said in a statement. “Of course the final decision on the team won’t be ours, but tonight Nashville checked off the final item that MLS needed to see. I’m always proud of this city, and tonight we’ve shown – once again – how we all come together around something important to make Nashville the best it can be.”

Ingram’s group added brothers Mark and Zygi Wilf , owners of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, and cousin Leonard Wilf in August as minority partners.

Nashville appeared to make a strong case recently when league Commissioner Don Garber visited the city this summer in conjunction with the U.S. national team’s Gold Cup opener against Panama.

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The turnout caught Garber’s eye. The July 8 game drew 42,622 fans to Nissan Stadium, which was followed by a record crowd of 56,232 on July 29 to watch Manchester City beat Tottenham 3-0 in the International Champions Cup. A U.S. women’s national team SheBelieves Cup match against France last year drew more than 25,000 fans.

“If you don’t have success with friendlies or international competition, you’re not going to have success in MLS,” Garber told reporters during the visit. “So that’s a checked box that we’ve actually checked a while ago.”

Twelve locations expressed interest in expansion franchises. MLS is expected to announce two winning bids later this year, bringing the league to 26 teams, with two more teams to be added in the future.

MLS expanded to 22 teams this season with the addition of Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC. LAFC, which replaces the now-defunct Chivas USA, joins next year. Miami’s expansion effort, led by David Beckham, would bring the league to 24.

The other cities that submitted bids for an expansion team are: Cincinnati; Detroit; San Antonio; Sacramento, California; San Diego; St. Louis; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; Indianapolis; Phoenix; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Nashville steps up bid for MLS expansion with stadium deal

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Nashville continues to make up more ground as it pushes to have a Major League Soccer franchise.

[ MORE: MLS expansion cities ] 

Over the past few months Nashville has move huge strides forward to get a deal in place for a new MLS stadium and on Monday plans were announced for a $250 million, 27,000-capacity venue in Tennessee’s capital city.

Mayor Megan Barry joined John R. Ingram, the main man behind the MLS expansion bid, to announce the details of a stadium deal at the Nashville Fairgrounds site.

The Mayor’s office said that 90 percent of the cost of the facility would come from private funds, revenues generated and the MLS ownership group would pay a lease for the facility, while also pay for any construction delays.

Nashville believes the stadium would be ready for 2021 and Ingram’s group would pay the $150 million expansion fee for the clubs bidding to become the next two to enter MLS

With four cities set to be awarded the franchises from the 12 bids submitted, two are expected to join MLS in 2020 and a further two soon after.

Here’s a reminder of the 12 cities competing for the four franchises.

  • Sacramento
  • Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • St. Louis
  • Detroit
  • Nashville
  • Charlotte
  • Raleigh/Durham
  • San Antonio
  • Cincinnati
  • Indianapolis

Given its recent success as a sporting venue with the city getting behind the Nashville Predators of the NHL, plus Tottenham and Manchester City clashing at Nissan Stadium in front of a packed-out crowd in July and the U.S. playing games in Nashville, Music City USA is making plenty of noise when it comes to becoming a soccer destination.

MLS loves to see expansion franchises working closely with local government (see: Orlando, Atlanta and Minnesota) and Nashville’s bid certainly seem to have the Mayor’s office on board with their plans.