Clint Brewer, a current principal at Stones River Group, spoke about what’s on the horizon to try to get an MLS team in the area.
According to Brewer, Nashville is one of several cities on the MLS radar for an expansion team for its league.
“It started a year ago in August by putting together the MLS2Nashville committee,” said Brewer. “We kind of came together and put our flag in the ground to let Major League Soccer know that Nashville is interested, which was kind of a surprise to Major League Soccer.”
Brewer first got involved with soccer as a child when his mother felt football was too violent a sport.
“I can remember being a little kid and talking to my parents about wanting to play football,” said Brewer. “My mother, like most mothers do, didn’t want me to get hit so they thought it would be a great idea for me to play this new thing they were doing in Knoxville called soccer. Little did she know how much contact there was in soccer.”
Later in life, Brewer became even more involved with the sport through his children’s participation.
“I quickly became frustrated with all my youth coaches, so I had to start coaching myself just to make sure my kids were getting the knowledge I thought they needed,” said Brewer.
Since then, Brewer stayed involved with local youth soccer clubs at a volunteer level.
Attendance for soccer events in Nashville remained strong since the city’s first game in 2006, when the U.S. Men’s National Team fell 1-0 in a friendly against Morocco in front of 26,141 people.
Since that game, the stadium has had soccer crowds of 44,835, 40,287 and most recently 47,662 a couple of months ago for the Gold Cup match between the U.S. and Panama.
The trend has caught the eye of the international soccer community.
“This market is very Premier League-centric and very U.S. Soccer-centric,” said Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevant Sports, the company, which oversees the International Champions Cup. “The fans have responded really well to it.”
Brewer said while a team in Nashville is still far from a sure thing, his committee feels good about the city’s chances for landing one of the expansion teams.
“There’s no official list of like finalists, but the commissioner, during the MLS All-Star Game referenced Nashville, along with Sacramento, Cincinnati and Detroit as being the four cities with a lot of energy around their bids,” said Brewer. “We feel like between that, and the progress we’ve made, we’ve got a very good chance.”