Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre penned an open letter to the fans on Thursday, providing updates on several details around the club's transition to MLS.
Ayre mentioned the personnel hires, saying that the majority of the front office is in place, and many of the key technical personnel hires have been made, putting the club in position to start building a roster for 2020. This supports Ayre's previous statements that the club would begin signing players for MLS during the 2019 season.
Ayre also announced that the club would move their offices from the current location on Rundle Avenue to a location next to the fairgrounds, in walking distance from the new stadium site.
The biggest news, however, was the announcement that the new soccer specific stadium will not open until the start of the 2022 MLS season. Until now, the timeline had been to open before the 2021 season, but the fact that construction hasn't yet begun on the stadium made it increasingly unlikely the initial time frame would work. Nashville SC was set to play at Nissan Stadium for their first season in MLS, and Ayre confirmed that the club will play their for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
"We believe opening the 2022 season in our new stadium will be a better outcome for both our team and our fans," said Ayre. "Moving into a new facility in the middle of the 2021 season and losing home field advantage could negatively affect our team on the field, and equally we believe this decision avoids disruption to our ticket holders midseason."
Nissan has hosted several soccer matches in the past, including two Nashville SC matches last year, and International Champions Cup match in 2017, and multiple US Men's and Women's National Team matches.
With a lower bowl hosting 26,504, Nissan will be a good gauge of attendance for the new soccer stadium, set to have a capacity of 30,000. Nashville SC matches at Nissan last year drew crowds of 18,922 and 18,228, but the national profile of MLS should draw larger crowds in 2020.
While some fans will not be happy to have an additional year at Nissan, the club got this right. It's worth the delay to ensure that the stadium is constructed well, and it will give the club time to finalize everything, from gameday operations to ticketing. With high-quality stadiums like Banc of California Stadium, Audi Field, and Allianz Field opening around the league, the bar has been set high for Nashville's future home.