If you follow Nashville SC or MLS, you’ve been hearing this for weeks; GEODIS Park will officially open on Sunday, May 1. At 30,109 seats, Nashville’s new venue is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and Canada, a historic moment for the club and the league.
It’s been a long process to build the stadium, going hand in hand with Nashville’s bid for an MLS team. Let’s look back at the key moments leading up to Sunday.
December 2016 – Nashville shortlisted for MLS expansion
Nashville was identified as a potential destination for MLS in December 2016, and within a week reports began circulating of plans for a soccer-specific stadium.
January 2017 – Nashville Fairgrounds proposed as stadium site
Mayor Megan Barry was influential in getting the initial stadium proposal over the line, initially proposing the Fairgrounds as the site for the new building. The proposal wasn’t without controversy, with the vocal “Save The Fairgrounds” group opposing the deal over the next year.
November 7, 2017 – Metro Council approves $275 million funding for Fairgrounds stadium
After a year of debates and public hearings, the Nashville Metro Council approved the proposal for funding at the Fairgrounds, approving all four related proposals, including a 31-6 vote in favor of $225 million in revenue bonds.
November 29, 2017 – Save Our Fairgrounds sues Metro Nashville
Attorney Jim Roberts filed a suit on behalf of the Save Our Fairgrounds group shortly after the Metro Council approved the stadium plans, saying that the council “wiped their feet on the metro charter” in approving the stadium deal.
December 20, 2017 – Nashville officially awarded MLS club
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber officially announced Nashville as the 24th club in Major League soccer at the Country Music Hall of Fame on December 20, 2017.
The announcement, hugely contingent on Nashville’s stadium deal, came just over a year after Nashville officially joined the MLS expansion race.
March 6, 2018 – Mayor Megan Barry resigns
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry officially resigned in the wake of a scandal involving the head of her security team that lead to her pleading guilty to felony theft. Barry was hugely influential in the initial stadium deal and instrumental in bringing MLS to Nashville, and Nashville SC lost a powerful advocate in the former mayor.
September 28, 2019 – John Cooper elected Nashville mayor
After Barry’s resignation, John Cooper defeated incumbent mayor David Briley in a 2019 runoff. A vocal opponent of the stadium as a metro councilmember, Cooper had called the stadium deal “finished business” during the lead-up to the election. However, supporters of the stadium feared his election could cause delays and potential re-evaluation of the stadium deal.
October 2019 – February 2020 – Construction delayed
Over a nearly four month period directly after Cooper’s election, progress at the stadium was delayed. Cooper initially delayed signing the Fairgrounds demolition contracts to re-evaluate the finances of the deal. After months of stalled negotiations, Cooper and Nashville SC majority owner John Ingram travelled to New York to MLS’s headquarters to revisit the proposal.
During today’s meeting, MLS Commissioner Don Garber made it clear to Mayor Cooper that Major League Soccer would not have awarded Nashville an expansion team without the commitment made by the city to build a soccer stadium at the fairgrounds. The mayor’s continued refusal to proceed is a deep disappointment to Nashville SC and MLS.John Ingram, January 30, 2020
Cooper released his own statement later that day, citing his concerns for Nashville’s budget. The very next day, Ingram wrote an open letter to Cooper, pledging an additional $19 million in private funding towards the stadium. Ingram closed by saying “Nashville needs to keep its commitments.”
With Ingram’s February 6 deadline passed, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce wrote an open letter to Mayor Cooper urging him to move forward with the stadium deal. The letter was signed by over 100 businesses and individuals.
On February 13, just two weeks before Nashville SC’s first match in Major League Soccer, Cooper and Ingram reached a final agreement to move forward with the stadium.
March 16, 2020 – Fairgrounds demolition begins
Two weeks after their MLS opener in front of 59,069 fans at Nissan Stadium, Nashville officially began demolition at the Fairgrounds six months after the process was initially set to begin.
July 22, 2020 – Stadium construction officially begins
After the Metro Council officially approved plans for the Fairgrounds Stadium, construction began next to the speedway, 22 months ahead of the scheduled completion date of mid-May 2022.
October 14, 2020 – Save Our Fairgrounds lawsuit dismissed
After Save Our Fairgrounds filed their initial suit opposing the stadium, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle dismissed the suit with prejudice, ending the legal opposition to the stadium for the final time and allowing Nashville SC to clear the final hurdle.
January 29, 2021 – Steel installation begins at stadium
In a virtual ceremony due to Covid-19, Nashville begin steel installation at the new stadium, “the most visible phase of construction.”
April 15, 2021 – First-ever media tour
In April 2021, Nashville gave local media a first look at the new venue. The lower bowl was still a work in progress, and only one side of the upper decks had begun to take shape.
March 3, 2021 – Playing surface installed
Two months before the stadium’s debut, Nashville installed the playing surface at the yet-to-be-named venue. Grown in Georgia for over two years, the grass was shipped in on over 20 trucks and installed in the same day.
March 10, 2022 – GEODIS unveiled as stadium sponsor
51 days before the stadium’s debut, Nashville SC unveiled GEODIS, a Nashville-based shipping and logistics company, as the first-ever naming rights sponsor for the stadium.
March 16, 2022 – Over 20,000 season tickets sold
46 days ahead of opening day, Nashville SC announced that they had sold over 20,000 season tickets at GEODIS Park. Later, the club also confirmed that single-game tickets had been sold out within minutes of going on sale.
May 1, 2022 – GEODIS Park to officially open
On Sunday, May 1, GEODIS Park will host its first match. Nashville SC will take on Philadelphia Union on national television, in front of a sold out crowd. Five and a half years after the stadium process began, before Nashville had played a professional match at the USL or MLS levels, the Fairgrounds stadium will finally be a reality.