Jones spoke at the club’s weekly meeting Monday about what the Nashville Soccer Club’s move to the United Soccer League means for the city.
Jones helped start the club in 2013 as the Nashville Football Club. The organization was totally amateur and none of the players or him were paid.
“There wasn’t a team here basically and I started one from scratch,” said Jones. “We went from Vista-print T-shirts as jerseys with iron-on numbers, playing in local tournaments that we couldn’t even win to theoretically at the end of the month, we could be on our way to having our own stadium and potentially [Major League Soccer] in four years.”
The USL team will start its season in 2018 playing games in the Nashville Sound’s First Tennessee Park, which will be totally converted into a soccer field for each of the team’s games.
“You’re probably wondering, how in the world do you play soccer in a baseball stadium? You get creative,” said Jones. “What we’re going to have to do is, where the mound is and where the infield is, every single time we play a home game, they’re going to knock that mound down, and they’re going to sod everywhere that there is dirt. Not a cheap undertaking, but because of how much we’ve invested into our coaching staff, our technical staff, and because of how much we’re going to invest in our players, it’s kind of like if you had a Lamborghini and then you put a four-cylinder in it. It doesn’t make much sense.”
The Major League Soccer organization took notice of Nashville’s soccer fan base during the summer when they city had the second largest attendance of the 12 European professional soccer games that were played in the U.S.
The only game that drew bigger attendance was in Miami between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Jones hopes that the large fan base can lead to the Nashville Soccer Club eventually moving up to the Major League Soccer organization, which is a step above the USL.
“We’ve got 30,000 kids in the mid-state alone that are registered to play the sport of soccer,” said Jones. “With the [Nashville Predators], they’ve done a phenomenal job, but when they showed up in Nashville, maybe one or two adult leagues were playing hockey. There were no high school teams like there are now. So, for us to come in, and right off the bat we have 30,000; to have that head start and to see what the Predators have become, if we can just follow their lead, we have no idea how high is high for this.”
For more information on the Nashville Soccer League and to keep up with the team’s roster, schedule and other information, visit nashvillesc.com.