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Music City MLS Pitch: Harmonic or Tone-Deaf?

New renderings for a proposed stadium have been released.

Initial renderings of the proposed soccer-specific MLS stadium in Nashville. (Photo via HOK)

With competition heating up for the next wave of expansion teams to join Major League Soccer, the complex issues raised within bidding cities has created many questions as the league decides who will get the nod to join next. One of the cities trending towards the top of the MLS expansion bid list is the booming city of Nashville.

With the reemergence of the NFL’s Titans, and the defending Western Conference Champions, the NHL’s Predators, Music City has seen a tremendous uprising in support from the local sports fans, and adding a new MLS franchise would be epitome of the city striking while the iron’s hot. Of course with a new professional team, comes a new stadium, typically raising questions of funding and taxes towards the city in considerations.

A study that was submitted to the league by Nashville city officials was recently put into question as it apparently, “failed to take into account that sales tax revenue redirected to pay off stadium debt [which] might put a strain on the city; [potentially using] more than $3 million of annual sales tax revenue,” that could be distributed elsewhere throughout the city and state.

According to the Tennessean, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s pitch for a new stadium was presented as a, “private-public partnership” intentionally placing the “private” first to emphasize the team’s financial contribution, with team owners, led by billionaire investor John Ingram, estimated to pay $9 million each year toward the $13 million annual debt payment, if the league chooses Nashville for a franchise.

This year’s newest teams performed in the upper half of the league in terms of attendance, with Minnesota United finishing in the top 10 and Atlanta United finishing number one in the league, averaging nearly 50,000 fans per game over the course of their inaugural season.

In addition to Nashville, the laundry list of cities looking to present a bid to the growing league includes Miami, Sacramento, Phoenix, North Carolina, Tampa/St. Pete, Cincinnati and more. Already producing comparable attendance numbers to that of the NHL, the next franchise to join the MLS is primed for an immediate boost in the local economy with revenue per team continuing to increase and it will fascinating to see who is chosen next.

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