Sunday, October 2, 2022

Nashville football-specific stadium nears completion

Nashville, Tenn. ( Associated Press) — Nashville SC held an open practice Tuesday at the largest football-specific stadium in the United States.

The team is due to play its first game on May 1 at the 30,000-seat GEODIS Park, although some construction and final touches are still being finalized.

Defender Walker Zimmerman said the expansion franchise has been in slow motion since February 29, 2020, playing at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

“It’s incredible to think that this is our permanent home and place where 30,000 can come, pack it up for us to be happy,” Zimmerman said. “It’s amazing. We can’t wait for May 1. It’s going to be an amazing environment, and hopefully we can get back three points to open it the right way.”

Nashville is starting this season with its first eight games on the road. Nashville is currently seventh in the Western Conference with 10 points and a 3-2-1 record. The club reached the playoffs each of its first two seasons, having lost to the Philadelphia Union in a shootout in the Eastern Conference semifinals last November.

GEODIS Park was built at the Nashville Fairgrounds right next to the historic speedway, which city officials and Bristol Motor Speedway are working on in a planned renovation.

The stadium has a 360-degree roof or canopy above the seats with lots of steel struts and bricks designed to mimic the industrial area in the neighborhood. Club seats have access to three differently themed club areas on the west side of the stadium, while the west side has a 65-foot-wide crowd.

The architects also designed a stage for musicians, who Begin Each Home Play With a Guitar Riff, national anthem or concerts during sports. Bermuda grass was planted in the field in early March. The bathrooms on the concourse are reversible, allowing them to be used for pregame events before the gate opens.

The May 1 debut is already sold out, and Nashville has sold 21,000 season tickets for this season.

Nashville Chief Executive Officer Ian Ayre said the plans were mere lines on paper when they arrived in 2018.

“The fans in the stadium, the players on the field, and it felt like a sound check to me for the first time in May to get those final touches,” Ayre said. “Great testament to so many people, too many to mention.”

Practice was open to season-ticket holders with Nashville expected to hold up to 4,000. A strong thunderstorm on Tuesday morning affected the voting. Fans who showed up were busy buying stuff, running to the front row to watch practice or visit the stadium.

Midfielder Annibal Godoy said they are looking forward to this new stadium knowing they need to win at home. Nashville went undefeated at home in 2021, moving steadily 8-0-9 with the players expected to move to the new park. Godoy said they knew they would go to the playoffs if they win at home.

“Now we have 30,000 here … it’s amazing for us and we need to enjoy this time,” Godoy said.

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More Associated Press MLS: https://apnews.com/hub/major-league-soccer and https://twitter.com/ Associated Press-game

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