By Jonathan Slape (@jslapessp), cohost/writer.
When Nashville SC announced the Kickin' It event with Commissioner Don Garber, Owner John Ingram and CEO Ian Ayre a few short weeks ago, it was going to serve as a chance to update fans on the stadium negotiation progress. However, a deal was reached yesterday morning, transforming the night into a celebration at Nashville Underground.
Before the event kicked off, we were given the opportunity to talk with Garber, Ingram and Ayre and discuss the newly reached stadium agreement. The deal was finalized Thursday morning and Ingram was notified via a phone call while at breakfast with Commissioner Garber. " We toasted with Coffee mugs" , says Garber
"My focus has shifted," says Ingram. "I know we are sitting here talking about the past but my brain going to the future to go execute this and make this something wonderful for the city."
When speaking of the future, questions immediately arise about construction timeline and when Nashville SC will move in to the stadium. When asked if Nashville would open the 2022 season in the new season Ingram says "It's too early to know. You know, the timing is tight. part of our frustration was that timing was tight" He did go on to say that part of the deal that was reached, they would sign off on the demolition permits that day.
The question then became would Nashville see a back loaded schedule like Sporting Kansas City, DC United as it has been done in the past. Garber stresses that it is certainly manageable from a scheduling point but they cant make any scheduling decisions at this point until they know when the stadium is opening. He goes on to say that the timing of the 2022 World Cup also will play a factor in season scheduling.
Both Garber and Ingram are excited to see the deal be wrapped up and begin moving forward. They want to capitalize on the excitement for soccer they have seen in the city during this public process and are looking forward to opening day against Atlanta.
Speaking of Opening Day, CEO Ian Ayre says that Nashville has sold close to 40,000 tickets for opening day and that in the last 10 days, they have seen a large increase in both single game and season tickets. "The numbers change dramatically day to day and were we have seen some trepidation around season tickets, its OK but i think this issue was definitely a roadblock for those and they have seen those pick up today."
"Nashville came out and stood up for soccer in Nashville and in order to keep that going it's important to keep committed and we will bring those people along on the longer journey," Ian states. Now that the agreement is behind them fans can expect to see even more detailed images of the stadium to be revealed in the coming weeks.
After an informative media session, the actual event kicked off downstairs with Jaime Watson, 1/3 of the NSC broadcast team, serving as the host of the celebration. "Our story right now in MLS is a blank page." Watson states "We get to make history each and every time we get together. Each and every time there is a game, each time there is an event you all and us are writing history together."
Watson moderated a discussion and fan Q&A with Garber, Ingram and Ayre as they discussed the stadium deal, the coming season and the continued excitement for everything that is happening in Nashville.
Nashville fans also got their first chance to meet, newest signing, Walker Zimmerman who discussed his excitement to be playing for Nashville. He said that when you find out you have been traded their is always a moment of trepidation before finding where your destination is but he could not be more excited about Nashville.
Host Jaime Watson asked General Manager Mike Jacobs about what qualities they were looking for that led them to acquire Zimmerman "We talk so much about NSC DNA, what this club will look like, on and off the field, and as you hear us talk about that more and more, a picture of that is Walker Zimmerman."
Photos courtesy of Nashville SC