Nashville SC CEO, Ian Ayre, announced the MLS stadium will not be ready until the 2022 season on Thursday, March 21, 2019. This is despite the fact that buildings for the flea market to move into are already well underway. Before demo and construction of the actual stadium can begin new buildings for the flea market to move into (the purple buildings near #3) have to be built. These are scheduled to be completed by September, 2019. Once done, the old buildings on top of the hill at the Fairgrounds will be knocked down for the MLS stadium. Could this have been done in 23 months in time for the 2021 season? Possibly, but getting it done right is most important to the club. It’s exciting to see things moving. Also this week the dog park has opened at the corner of Bransford Avenue and Craighead Street. There are scheduled to be eight multi use soccer fields adjacent to the dog park (all part of Fair Park – the green area labeled #2) that should be up and running soon. The MLS stadium will sit at the top of a small hill (labeled #1). The gray areas are for parking and the light blue areas are the 10 acres for mized use structures (commercial and residential). The most interesting part of the stadium update is that it will be 30,000 and possibly expandable up to 35,000. According to HOK Architects stadium filing this is because,
“the size in Nashville is one way to convince Vanderbilt University football to play any games at the fairgrounds. With 30,000 the university team would hold a couple games per season, while reaching 35,000 could open the chance for full-time tenancy.”
While most people thought that ship had sailed with a new Athletic Director at Vanderbilt and Ingram’s close ties it appears to still be an option. With the stadium now delayed until 2022 that gives both parties more time to work out a potential agreement.
The largest soccer specific stadium in MLS seems big given current Nashville SC USL attendance numbers. Further stadium renderings should be out before the end of the year. You can read a first hand account of the Music City politics that lead to approval of a MLS stadium for Nashville SC.
The Beginning – Post from January 2018
Nashville’s preliminary concept design for a proposed MLS stadium at the 117 acre Metro owned Nashville Fairgrounds. The multi-use stadium would be about 500,000 square-feet and hold approximately 27,500 people. With a focus on the MLS match experience, the proposed stadium also has the ability to accommodate other major events such as concerts, family events, and other sporting and civic events. In addition to the stadium, Ingram’s group has been given 10 acres of land to develop around the stadium. This will have heavy retail/restaurant component as there is little there now. I rode around the Nashville Fairgrounds the other day to get an eye on the land. Watch this short video and I’ll explain more below.
If you look at the map below I started the video just left of where the new Nashville SC stadium is located in the picture. Most those buildings will be renovated, relocated or demolished to make way for the stadium. These buildings are old and were built for the State Fair with the main purpose being holding livestock. Which stay and which go I think is very flexible at this point. I then showed the Wedgehill Market which is right across the street. There is a great article here if you want to read how it is effecting the lives of people in the neighborhood here. I then turned left and drove down Bransford towards the blue ridesharing stop labeled on the map. This is where you see residential housing before I turn into Santa’s Pub, one of the few places to get a beer around that area. It’s cheap and the place is always open late (2:30 AM everyday). I’m sure they are thrilled with the stadium location. When I leave Santa’s Pub you see the beginning of the fencing that will be removed along with the one large piece of construction equipment that was moving dirt around. That is the area where there will be a dog park and six to eight soccer fields. Next, I turned left on Craighead driving all the way down to past the racetrack. That entire section has fencing to be removed. Not sure why it is there in the first place? This area will be a much nicer greenway after the round one is finished. By round one I mean the $15 million already approved for improvements to the Fairgrounds in 2016. There was a 3 year timeframe and the city is wise to be waiting for Ingram’s final design before moving forward much.