Nashville MLS stadium update

Did you think the Nashville MLS stadium was a done deal when every relevant piece of Metro legislation passed the Council Sept. 6? You should have been right! But you are not.

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Let’s get it saved, folks. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

Quickly, let’s run through the established timeline before getting into the updates (skip to below the bullets if you just want the latest):

  • May 19, 2016: Nashville SC acquires Nashville FC’s intellectual property with intentions of taking the club from NPSL (amateur) to USL (professional) ranks.
  • March 4, 2017: John Ingram acquires majority ownership of Nashville SC, and his bid to bring Major League Soccer to Nashville is unified with the club.
  • November 7, 2017: Metro Council approves initial resolution to issue revenue bonds for the purpose of building a Major League Soccer stadium at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
  • November 29, 2017: MLS announces four finalists for expansion: Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, and Sacramento. The four bid groups present their proposals at the league’s New York offices Dec. 6.
  • December 20, 2017: Major League Soccer announces that Nashville will be the 24th franchise in the league (Miami – which had previously been promised a team – would be announced as the 25th on Jan. 29, 2018, and FC Cincinnati would become No. 26 with a May 29, 2018 announcement.
  • March 20, 2018: Metro Council strikes down a resolution proposed by District 12 councilmember Steve Glover to rescind RS2017-910.
  • March 22, 2018: Stand Up Nashville organizes a community benefits meeting (this would ultimately lead to the Community Benefits Agreement that earns SUN’s endorsement).
  • April 10, 2018: District 20 councilmember DeCosta Hastings hosts a meeting in his district to discuss the potential of locating the stadium in Metro Center, per a bill co-sponsored by anti-stadium zealot Glover (Hastings does not realize he’s the patsy in a delay tactic, for what it’s worth).
  • May 22, 2018: The final of three community planning meetings in regards to stadium design is held at the Fairgrounds Expo Center. No Save Our Fairgrounds members (save WSMV “journalist” Nancy Amons) are present.
  • June 21, 2018: Architecture firm Populous is selected to design Nashville’s MLS stadium.
  • August 21, 2018: Metro Council’s Budget and Finance committee votes to recommend disapproval of stadium legislation. (A quick aside here to get into the weeds in terms of the difference between what that was, and why it wasn’t all done when RS2017-910 passed: These pieces of legislation are the individual components required to build the stadium: 2018-1289’s purpose was to recommend demolishing of certain buildings on the property to prep the construction site, and to approve the establishment of a ticket tax on events at the stadium to pay back the loans required for its construction).
  • September 4, 2018: Stand Up Nashville announces signed Community Benefits Agreement, including provisions related to minority hiring, minimum wages, and workforce housing for stadium project.
  • September 4, 2018: All relevant Metro Council legislation required to build the soccer stadium (Bills 1289, 1290, 1291, Resolution 1328) gets final approval.
  • October 29, 2018: Construction begins on new Expo buildings (to be completed before stadium construction commences).

Now, the stuff that has happened since mostly involves Save Our Fairgrounds, having lost a political battle, attempting to wage a legal one. The initial filing date of the lawsuit is September 4, and I believe it was actually filed prior to Metro’s approval of the relevant legislation at that evening’s Metro Council meeting.

The fate of that lawsuit is the primary ongoing drama in regards to the stadium at this point. If Save Our Fairgrounds is successful in suing the city to prevent changes to the Fairgrounds, that’s yet another legal hurdle. The lawsuit has been dismissed once, but in a manner (“without prejudice”) that allowed it to be re-filed.

The plaintiffs – collectively “Save Our Fairgrounds,” for the sake of simplicity here – have requested a temporary injunction from Chancery Court Chancellor (“judge” for simplicity’s sake, with Chancery being the branch of the judiciary that decides on matters of equity, rather than law) Ellen Hobbs Lyle. That injunction is to halt all construction activities at the site of the Fairgrounds pending the outcome of this lawsuit. That injunction was denied Friday (a previous attempt was denied Oct. 26), meaning construction can go on.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 30. That is a Rule 16 conference, for the purpose of selecting a trial date. That is to say – barring an unlikely settlement prior to Nov. 30 (or a rescheduling – the court’s dockets aren’t updated in as timely a fashion as I’d like) – that is the next date on which there will be an update.

What are the grounds of the lawsuit?

SOF alleges that Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee is in violation of the Metro Charter. Specifically, they claim that Metro’s proposed changes to the Fairgrounds site, particularly the construction of a stadium is a violation of 11.602(d) of the Metro Charter. That’s the famed “2011 Referendum” that must be “honored” per the t-shirts of the SOF group. Let’s read the language:

All activities being conducted on the premises of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds as of December 31, 2010, including, but not limited to, the Tennessee State Fair, Expo Center Events, Flea Markets, and Auto Racing, shall be continued on the same site. No demolition of the premises shall be allowed to occur without approval by ordinance receiving 27 votes by the Metropolitan Council or amendment to the Metropolitan Charter.

So, let’s unpack it here: The State Fair, Expo Center events, flea markets, and auto racing events may not be moved from the Fairgrounds site. HOWEVER: there’s a pretty obvious caveat included in the language of the Metro Charter: without approval by ordinance receiving 27 votes by the Metropolitan Council or amendment to the Metropolitan Charter.

Your spoiler: the Metro Charter has not been further amended, so we’re dealing with the other stipulation: approval by 27 members of Metro Council. It seems that unless the legislative action (1289, 1291, RS1328) that involve moving one of those four activities from its current location didn’t pass with 27 votes, there’s no legal grounds for this suit.

  • BL2018-1289 – passed 31-8.
  • BL2018-1291 – passed 30-9.
  • RS2018-1328 – passed 28-6 (5 not voting).

So… as I’ve harped upon regularly over the course of this unnecessarily protracted legal battle, there is no violation of the Metro Charter, and indeed, to prevent construction on the site would be a failure to “Honor the 2011 Referendum.” With a caveat that I Am Not A Lawyer, it seems there’s no grounds for the suit.

Presumably, with one dismissal of the case already in the books, the judicial side of the law sees it that way as well. I would expect another dismissal (again: not a lawyer, this is common sense analysis, not necessarily the legal nitty-gritty), and likely with prejudice this time, to prevent SOF from continuing to file frivolously.

What’s going on with construction now?

While construction begins on the new Expo Center buildings (which will be completed prior to demolition of the current Expo Buildings, allowing for uses thereof to continue), the Fair Park site is getting a makeover, as well. This is a separate item, but helps turn what had been mostly wasted space into community parks, including a trailhead for the greenway network, a dog park, and community athletic fields. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Fairgrounds site, the primary areas under dispute are at the top of a hill, facing toward the North. This is essentially at the bottom of the other side of the hill, on the South and East portions of the Fairgrounds site).

Construction on the Expo Center buildings is taking place on the Fair property lot across Walsh Road (which will be closed during construction). Walsh will be re-routed to remain East-West – it currently bends to the North at its eastern terminus to meet Nolensville Pike – when it re-opens.

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Pitch Points is annoyed that #stadium_stuff is back in the news

Rounding up the latest across the internet in links that are interesting and relevant to soccer in Nashville, the US National setups, and beyond. If there’s anything you’d like me to share in a future post, you can always let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram – and hit those socials with a follow while you’re there – or drop anything in the comments.

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how dare you disrupt this post-industrial wasteland with nice new buildings! Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

#stadium_stuff. Save Our Fairgrounds has inexplicably been allowed to continue their frivolous lawsuit against Metro trying to stop construction on the MLS stadium. If you had any questions about whether they’re actually concerned for Nashville, or just want their way or the highway, with the citizens of Davidson County on the hook for the legal costs… well, you shouldn’t have needed more evidence, but now you have it. (As an aside, maybe they should link up with their spiritual companions in the NASL leadership? Spitballin’ here).

Meanwhile, Nashville’s NPR affiliate has a (very very brief) story on the Community Benefits Agreement, with a throwaway quote from the author of Field of Schemes saying “yeah well this is just another way to get people on your side,” which, yeah? That’s the, uh, point?

Elsewhere in #stadium_stuff, this is actually old news (Mortenson-Messer awarded construction bid), but pending the outcome of SOF’s frivolous lawsuit, we have a timeline:

According to city documents, final plans should be submitted to the MLS by Feb. 25, 2019, with construction starting the following June. The stadium is scheduled to open Feb. 19, 2021.

I would assume we get public release of the final-final plan within a week or so of submission to MLS, and the stadium is scheduled to open in plenty of time for the second season in the big leagues.

MLS to Copa Libertadores? This would be interesting, essentially a combination of the current Copa Libertadores (the South American club championship) and Concacaf Champions League (North American version of same). It’d be similar to Copa America Centenario on the national team side of things: cooperation between the two confederations.

The travel might be… interesting… but there are certainly ways around that. I’ve advocated for some time that the continental North and South American nations band together to form a new confederation (while the Caribbean teams band together to form their own, which would feature a lot fewer 10-0 scorelines against the USAs and Mexicos of the world – each group finds its level with a new confederation, essentially), and any cooperation is a symbolic step toward that, if not an actual one.

TFCII piece. The Athletic also covers life in the USL($), though (and this is not the fault of the author, their TFC beat reporter), I’d wager that MLS B-sides have a pretty different experience from independent teams at both ends of the spectrum. It also frames life in USL in a way that I don’t much care for – though I don’t think it was the intention of the author to slam the league – it’s just been interpreted that way.

It’s one thing for college players to have crappy life on the road where they’re not paid and coaches (more in revenue sports, but college soccer coaches are well-compensated, too). Somebody – the labor! – is getting the raw end of the deal there. In a minor league sport where the players are making about as much as possible while the team is barely surviving (or in many cases, unable to do so)… I have more of a problem acting like somebody is being wronged, except inasmuch as everyone is being wronged by the market’s lack of making soccer profitable. Obviously, I would love for there to be a world in which guys can making a living playing second-division soccer in the United States (and teams should obviously thrive to do as much for them as they can). But the reason we *don’t* have that isn’t some greedy-owner situation, either.

MLS2 sides and independent USL clubs also have very different organizational goals and finances from each other… perhaps it could be considered an indictment of Toronto FC from top-to-bottom ($28 mil in salary among MLSPA members) more so than the USL system.

NPSL Pro. The long-rumored/planned/whatever professional division of NPSL will launch in 2019. The teams:

New York Cosmos, Detroit City FC, Milwaukee, Chattanooga FC, Miami United FC, Miami FC, San Diego Albion, Cal United, Cal FC, FC Arizona and Oakland Roots.

At least two of those are extremely expected (Detroit and Chattanooga), while there’s a notable exception in Jacksonville, though there’s a note at the bottom of the story that they’re still exploring the professional opportunity while keeping one foot in a commitment to the amateur variety of NPSL.

My thought? Cool! More opportunities for soccer – and particularly professional soccer – in our country is always a good thing. Much like I’ve said the anti-NCAA (the college soccer pathway, not the objectively evil organization) zealots are wrong: the more pathways, the more opportunities for the sport to become profitable and the more opportunities for development. That’s good!

I do question the viability long-term, especially in markets with at least one MLS team (New York, Miami) and the smaller markets with USL competition (Chattanooga, Cal FC), but I hope they’re successful. Not sure how I’d feel about every non-MLS/USL-affiliated professional league failing over time. It would say bad things about our soccer culture. (No problem watching the fake NASL fail over and over again, though. Screw those guys, even if two of them are involved in this project).

fh. Good stuff on Dos a Cero (and its death?) from The Athletic($). … The basics of the Dortmund bus bombing story aren’t exactly new. That doesn’t make the story any less wild. … World Cup tactics and the return of the counter-attack. … Louisville City helped energize the area’s soccer community. We’re seeing that in Nashville as well, though perhaps starting from further behind. … Memphis’s USL team announces first signings. … USMNT losing prospects to Mexico as players head to the land of their heritage for opportunities. … This agent-fee story is probably way more interesting to a Europe-focus audience. … Nissan will host a Gold Cup semi next Summer. Holy cow I’m out here clearing oooooold links. … USYNT’s Konrad de la Fuente one of the 60 best 2001-born players in the world.

As always, thanks for reading. Like what you see? Share FCAC with a friend!

#MySoccerStory

This is not a soccer story. Well it is, but it’s more than that. It’s important to remember that tonight’s Metro Council meeting is about soccer, but building a stadium is about more than soccer. Pro-stadium/pro-soccer/pro-MLS voices need to remember (and I’m guilty of overlooking at times) that this isn’t a referendum on whether soccer is cool and good. It’s about approving a major municipal project that impacts much more than how a bunch of people are going to spend 17 afternoons/evenings in the Summer and Fall in the next few years.

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From dirt fields to MLS grounds, the game is beautiful. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

That’s why this is a story about belonging.

I also encourage you to listen to stories from those who don’t want a stadium to be built. For the most part, it’s a story about belonging for them, too. Many of those involved are simply worried that they’re going to lose the racetrack that gives them a sense of belonging, the flea market that gives them not only a sense of belonging for for many a primary source of income, the State Fair that gives them a belonging not only in Nashville, but a belonging in their own personal stories and a connection to their past.

It’s important to listen and understand the fears of disenfranchisement that they’re threatened with. Yes, it’s absolutely fair to also point out to them “Shane Smiley and Rick Williams have lied to your face: the only way to Save Our Fairgrounds is to allow for this investment.” The Fairgrounds aren’t going anywhere (well, some portions will move to a different area of the same site, in brand new facilities), and the disingenuousness that has led the Average Joe in a red shirt – not those who traffic in untruth to sway them – to think otherwise is their enemy, not a soccer stadium.

Anyway, on to my story of belonging.

Growing up, I didn’t really play soccer. Like basically every kid born in the mid-80s, I kicked it around as a young child, but quit the AYSO version of the game when American football, basketball, etc. became my focus. That’s a pretty standard narrative for a kid of my era, and even though I had friends who continued playing through high school (and even some in college), it just wasn’t my thing.

I attended the University of Michigan, and quite honestly wasn’t big into college sports before that. Becoming a member of the university community was a life-changing experience for me. the sense of community and, yes, belonging became a massive part of who I am today. Without that simple experience, every part of my life and career is completely different. I’ve become a professional sports writer because of that experience, and it was more about the sense of belonging than about the sports themselves.

I got back interested in soccer during college (a crush on one of the players on the Michigan women’s team may or may not be involved), and have been highly invested in the game ever since. Other than the US Men’s National Team, though, I had a hard time finding that deep emotional connection to a team once I left college. I’ve cheered off and on for a Premier League team here, an MLS side there, but it’s just not the same.

When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t even know there was an NPSL team here (it began the same year I arrived), and quite honestly probably didn’t know a whole lot about the existence of the NPSL. I was aware of Detroit City FC, having moved here from Detroit, but couldn’t have told you what competition they played beyond “American minor leagues.” For the first three years I lived here, that didn’t really change. I attended one Nashville FC game in 2016, a couple Nashville SC U-23 games in 2017. I tried to find my emotional roots in the soccer wilderness, getting involved with the Nashville Hammers – but still having a hard time with serious emotional investment in a team 4,000 miles away, in a city I’d never been to, with no true connection.

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Our valiant hero, with-child. Courtesy Nashville Hammers

Last Winter, I decided that Nashville SC would be my team. I decided that I’d do what I’ve always done when I find a sports topic I love: write. That’s led to this site – which I hope y’all enjoy – and it’s led to a sense of belonging. (It’s also led to zero U.S. Dollars retweet subscribe and contribute to my gofundme)*

*I’m joking. There is no GoFundMe. 

That’s why, as much as tonight’s council meeting is about soccer, it’s really not. It’s about belonging. Do you want to belong to a city that is open, inclusive, exciting? Certainly there are some who don’t, and I can’t begrudge them that opinion. There are too many others whose sense of belonging is being threatened by false claims from political ideologues who are tricking them into thinking this stadium not only will threaten something they love, but is intended to do so as a personal insult. 

Perhaps Nashville doesn’t need MLS, and certainly looking at the big picture as a pragmatic, transactional matter, it’s not a money-maker. But this isn’t about money (nor is it about enriching developers who have friends in government, among the many tales the aforementioned liars spin in order to drum up support on the basis of false premises). It’s about belonging. And soccer belongs here.

If it didn’t, I don’t know if I would.

If you haven’t yet (or even if you have!) contact your Metro Councilmember and the council at large to encourage them to vote in favor of tonight’s Bill, 2018-1290. Make it clear in the subject line that you’re writing to support the MLS stadium, as they’ll be inundated today and may not have time to read through every e-mail before the meeting.

Metro Budget and Finance Committee recommends disapproval of key stadium legislation

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Who could possibly want to tear down this well-maintained, very safe building? Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

The ups and downs of the battle to build an MLS Stadium at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds hit a down point last night: The Budget and Finance Committee of Metro Council recommended disapproval of a couple key resolutions. We’ll start with the good news, though. A couple resolutions were killed by Metro Legal before even getting to a serious point:

Resolution RS2018-1372 (Cooper, Vercher)
Referred to the Budget and Finance Committee

A resolution calling a county-wide referendum election to ascertain the will of the people regarding the issuance of bonds by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County to be secured by revenues of the Metropolitan Government, and the lease of public property, for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at Fairgrounds Nashville, and appropriating an amount not to exceed Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) from the Undesignated Fund Balance of the General Fund of the General Services District to provide the necessary funds for the referendum.

This resolution cannot be voted upon until the Metro Finance director rules the funds are available (which has not happened). That was considered an unreasonable technicality by sponsor John Cooper, which is an odd characterization of something that’s plainly stated in the Metro rules.

Now, on to the bad news. The following bill is necessary for the stadium to be built, and was voted against by the committee, 7-5:

Bill BL2018-1289 (Sledge, Vercher)
Approved by the Planning Commission
Referred to the Budget and Finance Committee
Referred to the Codes, Fair, and Farmers Market Committee
Referred to the Planning, Zoning, and Historical Committee

An ordinance approving the demolition of certain buildings and structures necessary for the construction of a new Major League Soccer Stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville, and amending Title 5 of the Metropolitan Code to impose a privilege tax on the sale of tickets to events at the new Major League Soccer stadium (Proposal No. 2018M-020PR-001).

That’s not a kiss of death for the resolution: indeed, at tonight’s Metro Council meeting, the expectation is that it is approved on a second reading. Tonight’s vote requires a simple majority (21 “yes”) to make it to the third reading, slated for the Sept. 4 Metro Council meeting.

However, it is an indication that all is not in the clear in terms of making an MLS stadium – and therefore an MLS team – happen for Nashville.

What can I do?

First and foremost, let your metro councilperson know that you are in favor of the passage of Bill 1289, in favor of an MLS Stadium (and the accompanying pieces, including ten acres for private development and new facilities for the flea market and State Fair) at the Fairgrounds, and in favor of MLS coming to Nashville.

Don’t know how to get in touch with your councilperson? You can see how on this website, which lists the e-mail addresses along with district (if you don’t know which district you reside in, you can enter your address on the right). I would also recommend contacting at least the at-large councilmembers.

Want to have your voice heard to the entire body? councilmembers@nashville.gov is the address to reach all of them at once (or you can go through the MLS2Nashville site here). Ensure that whatever you include in the body, it’s heartfelt and honest – since we’ve seen plenty on the anti-fairgrounds side of things trafficking in dishonesty, including Councilmember Glover – and make sure the subject line of the e-mail makes it clear that you support an MLS Stadium.

Show up! Nothing is more impactful than making your presence felt in a literal sense. Go to tonight’s 6:00 p.m. Metro Council meeting, and show up early (here) to make sure you get in.

Better yet, if you’re a fan of pizza and/or soft drinks, show up to Public Square Park (immediately in front of the Metro building) at 4:30 p.m. MLS2Nashville will be providing the grub, and there will be a march into the building early enough to make sure all attendees get a seat in the chambers – which is not always guaranteed, especially when there are other contentious items on the docket (which, if you haven’t been yet, please know that these meetings cover all Metro business, not just stadium-related items. Prepare for boredom).

Importantly, wear blue and gold (preferably Nashville SC garb), bring scarves, bring friends who are wearing the right colors, etc. A show of force for the pro-stadium crowd can’t be ignored. On the same note do not wear red, which the anti-stadium group has adopted as the color of its cause.

What’s next?

Assuming 1289 makes it through a majority vote tonight, the easiest thing to remember to do is to keep repeating the steps listed above. Make sure your Councilperson and the body writ large hear your voice in the interim.

Be ready to show up again at the Sept. 4 meeting (and if you’re truly dedicated, next Monday for committee meetings), and hopefully, be ready to celebrate clearing these hurdles.

Populous selected for preliminary contract to design Nashville MLS stadium

Architecture firm Populous, which is no stranger to the sports and soccer worlds for its stadium designs, has been selected for a contract to design the MLS stadium in Nashville, slated for the Fairgrounds. The contract is subject to approval from Metro Council, and final details have yet to be publicized (though a $12 million value was approved by the Nashville Sports Authority).

Populous has designed plenty of high-profile soccer stadia in recent years, including Tottenham Hotspur’s upcoming stadium, slated to debut in the 2018-19 season, Lyon’s Groupama Stadium, and the conversion of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium from an all-purpose track facility to a soccer ground (occupied by West Ham United).

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Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Courtesy Populous.
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2014 Incheon Games. Courtesy Populous.

On the domestic front, Populous was the design firm behind Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park, generally regarded amongst the best Major League Soccer facilities in the country:

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Children’s Mercy Park. Courtesy Populous

While no two design projects are exactly alike – and Populous’s results have run the gamut from traditional to fully modern – there are some consistent features among the soccer stadiums we’ve seen in recent years.

The majority of them are open-air but have covered seating (two aspects that are going to be almost certain inclusions in the Nashville design). Plenty of them have sweeping, flowing exterior design elements tying the stadium itself into a big-picture connection with the area surrounding it (Incheon 2014 being the most obvious example among the above). All of them are purpose-built, and given Nashville’s desire for the stadium to be more than just a soccer venue – also the cornerstone of a new commercial/residential district, including the 10-acre parcel in the initial stadium proposal – there will be plenty of engagement in determining exactly how to meet the needs of the city and team.

Pitch Points (also) joins the big leagues

Welcome to Pitch Points: rounding up links of interest in Nashville, US Soccer, and other topics of interest. Don’t forget to follow the site on TwitterFacebook, and now Instagram, where you can always drop links to share in one of these posts.

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Except it says “Cincy” somewhere. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

Cincy Soccer Talk (PHRASE COPYRIGHT 2018 FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY). Cincinnati has a lot to gain from getting into MLS before Miami and Nashville. Sounds like a win-win, since Nashville’s interest in joining up for 2019 was approximately zero.

That said, this piece from Cincy Soccer Talk is v. interesting, and certainly something we’ll be watching from Nashville not just for Cincinnati’s own MLS launch, but how it will apply to ours down the road, as well. Bookmark it, y’all.

Sports Illustrated on Cincinnati. How does it affect #SaveTheCrew? Regardless of what anyone says, the answer is “not at all,” because trashman’s desire to move the Crew is based only in his desire to move the Crew: there is no way to make Columbus an appealing final destination to him aside from a $200 million-dollar bribe in the form of a municipally-funded stadium.

Also, since I’ve harped on this regularly… The Detroit media really were clueless all along that their city’s chances of getting an MLS franchise went to zero when their home field situation was announced as Ford Field. How did you not know this all along? Why are you surprised now? How did you not possibly research a topic you wrote about constantly? So strange.

500m talent pool. Sporting Kansas City and other MLS teams are stretching the definition of “homegrown” with the league’s homegrown player rule.

In short, each team has a territory to which it lays claim, and youth players from that area are eligible to be “homegrowns” if they are signed to the MLS side through that team’s academy. The loophole at play here is that there are large portions of the country (including decent soccer-playing areas) that aren’t within any team’s homegrown territory… and kids are joining academies halfway across the continent, living with host families, and earning homegrown status despite not being truly from that club’s range.

I don’t have a problem with it: anything to help 1) talented kids get better coaching earlier, and 2) MLS improve its quality of play with domestic players, is absolutely fine by me. (I also think it’s fine if MLS improves with foreign players, for its own purposes. From a USMNT perspective, domestic players are preferred, obviously).

It’s also relevant to our interests: Tennessee is a state that doesn’t produce a ton of high-level soccer talent (I count just a couple MLS/USL players from the Volunteer State, and my research finds not very many at Division-1 colleges in comparison to similarly-sized states, either). Certainly, we’d like that to improve – and expect it to with an MLS team headed to town – but Nashville SC may need to get creative in filling its academy in the future, as well.

I’m also interested to see how this “MLS 2 sides play in USL D3” thing works out. I think it’s a better fit in the long-term – as it relates to developing players, at least. Also, uh, “a sign of giving up on finding a USL partner” is not a negative.

Overall this does have a bit of the feeling as if the club has failed at several attempts and decided to go in-house as a last resort.

“They failed at something worse, so they’re doing something better instead” is a win. Except inasmuch as I guess it means your front office might be difficult to deal with? That’s not something that affects fans on a day-to-day basis. Operating your own B-team is objectively better in basically every way (the only downside is that you have to pay for it), especially given that a USL affiliate’s primary job is to win (as opposed to the owned & operated teams, which are designed to develop).

Geographic spread of your #brand is also objectively a good thing. Would choosing to put a hypothetical MLS B-side in, say, Franklin mean that Nashville chose a bad location in the city for the A-side? Of course not. It just means they’re in more places – and in fact, I would view it as a failure to waste the opportunity to spread the brand if they just had it in the same area.

So it doesn’t matter that we didn’t qualify? Cool. Writing in The Guardian, Beau Dure writes that the United States will never win the World Cup (though it’s immediately hedged with “not any time soon,” which has a different meaning, but I’ll let it slide).

While many of his points are valid – we do indeed start way behind the European (and South American) powers from an infrastructure and desire standpoint, too many folks are interested in suing their way into relevance than acting in the interest of the good of the game, etc. – I don’t disagree with the end product. “Boise State can’t win the Fiesta Bowl because they started way after Oklahoma” is essentially the point here… and we all know what happened in 2007 (and against TCU in 2009). There’s something to be said for investment trumping all.

Are we headed in the right direction now? Maybe not. Are we headed in a better direction after the USSF presidential election? Probably not as forcefully as some wanted, but I think so. There’s plenty more work to do, and it will require a lot more people to become more dedicated to a cause, sure. But “never” (or “not any time soon”) is still extreme to me.

The US has gotten out of the group stage in four of the past six World Cups (since the announcement of MLS, which I would contend is when the game changed), and when you’re in a knockout tournament, anything can happen. They were a Wondo sitter – yes, in a game they were dominated – away from matching their best performance since 1930 just four years ago.

Feels to me like missing the World Cup has (understandably) damaged folks emotionally, and that emotion – which has carried over into coverage of some of the NASL litigation, etc. – is coloring a bit of folks’ perception of the upside here.

Speaking of missing the World Cup, I haven’t read this piece yet, but have seen only positive remarks about it. Probably tearing into it immediately after posting this story, in fact. (And I’ll also be posting a Soccer University piece for a more 1,000-foot view on missing the World Cup next week).

 

 

Etc.: Since I never talk West Ham even though they’re in the Twitter avi: Manuel Pellegrini is a huge grab as manager, IMO. … Sign up to support one of the SGs’ Prideraiser campaigns. … Surely this would all be fixed with #ProRel4USA. … HOK is one of the architecture firms vying for Nashville’s MLS stadium, and one of their top designers has retired. … I wish I could say the lede to this was just a “some idiot is racist” story, rather than a “problem with US soccer” story, but alas it’s both, and both are inextricably linked in our country. … USL fluff on Brandon Allen, and from overseas on Liam Doyle.

Photos from Fairgrounds community planning meeting

Earlier this week – Tuesday, to be precise – the final in a series of public planning sessions for a stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville was held in the Creative Arts building, just steps away from the chosen site of the stadium. It was more like a brainstorming session – multiple architectural firm spitballing ideas with members of the public who dropped in (no more than a dozen at Tuesday’s event, though there may have been more at previous editions).

I didn’t have the chance to sit down with too many of the architects and/or planning firms (I was only there for an hour or so, they were more than gracious to spend plenty of time with folks who asked questions or offered suggestions, though this was less of a “come talk to us while we work” event than the previous sessions). I also didn’t want to share any of their specific plans, putting their proprietary work out there without permission.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive vibe from the community – whether through a post-it wall of wants, needs, likes, dislikes, etc., the brainstorming sheets from the previous meetings, and the folks who were actually in attendance (aside from one local news reporter whose story clearly came from a… certain perspective) – which I guess shouldn’t surprise me given the nature of the Save The Fairgrounds crew: they’re a disingenuous bunch, not even based in Davidson County, and their objections have nothing to do with actually saving the Fairgrounds.

The community members of District 17 and the great Nashville community – not only including, but especially those who use the Fairgrounds on a regular basis for racetrack, flea market, or other purposes – tend to be in favor, in my experience (I don’t want to speak on behalf of all, of course, but in my experience, it’s a strongly-“Pro” crowd). They want the Fairgrounds to be improved, and see adding a professional sports franchise to It’s unfair to them to have their avatars be used by the Steve Glovers and (ugh) Rick Williamses of the world, for a cause opposite the one they’d be likely to get behind.

Off my soapbox, anyway.

Here are a few more photos I took outside the Fairgrounds, of the lower-level soccer fields – for community use, as well as potential parking with reinforced turf – that are already under construction.