Nashville SC - technical staff at table during 2019 Expansion Draft
Courtesy of Nashville SC

Nashville SC aim for record-breaking crowd in inaugural MLS match

As Nashville SC builds toward its first season in Major League Soccer, many are curious to see how Music City will take to becoming Soccer City.

Nashville CEO Ian Ayre is pleased with the progress the club is making toward filling Nissan Stadium in Year 1, with season tickets approaching about 70 percent of the team’s internal sales goal.

There are even bigger plans for the first match in club history against Atlanta United Feb. 29 (8 pm ET | FOX): filling the whole thing.

“Season tickets have continued to grow steadily, and then we did a pre-sale for groups and for certain individuals or organizations, and that had a really big uptick for us,” Ayre said. “I would certainly feel comfortable that, in the next two days to maybe early or late into the weekend, we would hope to at least fill the lower bowl.

“I’d love to fill the whole place, genuinely. That feels like an audacious target, or maybe an audacious ask of Nashville, but I think if we’re going to do this, you need to be the best you can be.”

With a lower bowl capacity around 38,000 fans, and a stadium capacity of 69,143, that’s a lofty goal indeed. It would break the record for a Tennessee soccer crowd, set when Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur played a friendly at Nissan Stadium July 29, 2017. Eclipsing the 56,232 fans who witnessed that game is within NSC’s sights.

“The other examples have been visiting teams coming in and putting on showcase games,” Ayre said. “This is a real game against a real challenging opposition in Atlanta. It’s a rivalry; it’s our first-ever game in Major League Soccer. If I were in Nashville and I was just a casual sports fan or just curious, I’d want to be a part of that.”

However many fans make it to Nissan that day, the club’s task is to make each and every one want to return. In Nashville, that means a spectacle.

“The 29th is an important game, but it’s not lost on us that we have to entertain every week, every home game, and every game on the road, “Ayre said. “When you go to a [music] festival, you have this whole mix of talent in different genres, and we want to be the headliner — the soccer itself need to be the headliner in our festival — but that doesn’t mean we can’t have other genres of entertainment, whether it’s music, or rituals, or other things. It should be a show.” 

MLS Unites to VOTE

Join Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change, and the MLS Players Association in participating in the November 3 general election. In-person early voting has started in 36 states. Make a plan to vote.