The businessman leading Nashville’s MLS expansion bid has bought a majority stake in the group that will launch Nashville SC in USL next year, further consolidating Music City’s push to become a leading soccer town.
Nashville SC announced on Thursday that John R. Ingram, chairman of Ingram Industries Inc., has purchased a majority interest in DMD Soccer, the group that owns the club, which is competing at the PDL (Premier Development League) level this year as a ramp-up to USL play in 2018. NSC have already hired former Colorado Rapids coach and 2010 MLS Cup winner Gary Smith as the head coach of their USL side.
“Our effort to bring Major League Soccer to Nashville and the mission of DMD Soccer are now jointly committed to elevate and expand professional soccer in Music City,” Ingram said in a statement.
“We plan to give Nashville SC fans an exceptional soccer experience, starting with this season’s debut of the Nashville SC U23 amateur team, which will lead to a successful debut in the USL as we continue to grow the game in Nashville at every level.”
Ingram Industries operates major entities in the marine shipping, information technology and book publishing sectors, and was listed at $2.3 billion in revenue last year by Forbes magazine. Nashville’s MLS bid committee also includes prominent names like Bill Hagerty, former economic development chief for the state of Tennessee and President Donald Trump's nominee to be the United States’ ambassador to Japan, and the president/CEOs of the NFL's Tennessee Titans and NHL's Nashville Predators.
Nashville was among 12 cities which submitted formal bids for consideration as one of the four MLS expansion franchises to be awarded in the coming years. The city’s mayor, Megan Barry, has spoken in favor of a proposed public-private partnership to build a $110 million soccer stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds south of downtown.
In the meantime, the country music mecca will host a Gold Cup doubleheader at the Titans’ Nissan Stadium on July 8, featuring the US national team’s match vs. Panama, and an International Champions Cup exhibition match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City later in the month.