It’s official: Nashville SC’s first competitive home match will be played on a big stage: The Boys in Gold will take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at the home of the Tennessee Titans, Nissan Stadium.
“We saw the incredible passion and support of our fans in our preseason exhibition last Saturday,” Nashville SC CEO Court Jeske said. “On Saturday, March 24, we have our first opportunity to play a regular season match in front of those fans. By moving this event to Nissan Stadium, Nashville Soccer Club wanted to ensure that every fan that wants to take in history will have the opportunity to do so.”
The club sold out First Tennessee Park for a friendly. Yes, that was the first-ever chance to see the team on the field, and yes it was against a popular (and talented) MLS team. But the stadium was still packed despite pouring rain – not just popular as measured by tickets sold, it was well-attended, as well – and the reasonably competitive result against that talented MLS side can give a bit more excitement for a team that is going to be very good in USL (and against a team that doesn’t have that expectation, the opportunity for maybe a big win). The club booked Nissan Stadium, forcing the much-discussed SportFest at First Tennessee Park that day into First Tennessee Park (did we have to move because of SportsFest has the order of operations wrong), because the club wanted the opportunity for more tickets sold at these two big games.
Speaking of tickets sold, the capacity of First Tennessee Park is stated at 10k (9,059 were in the house Saturday), while the facility record is 11,764 for a Sounds game – which may have a slightly different seating arrangement with a different total capacity. So, how many more tickets would NSC have to sell to justify the move to Nissan Stadium (capacity: 69,143), given the potential sacrifices in atmosphere and “hot ticket” reputation when games are hard to get into? That’s in the eye of the beholder, of course.
The record for soccer attendance in Nissan was set and then broken in the course of three weeks last year, with the USA-Panama Gold Cup game bringing in 47,622 fans and then Manchester City and Tottenham in the International Champions cup beating that with 56,232 July 29. The club is certainly pushing tickets:
With the announcement, Nashville SC launched its “Drive to Nissan” campaign to make certain every fan will be able to witness the club’s first regular season game in history. Tickets to the game will be available on February 20th and will start at $15.
(Season ticket holders will get seats in approximately their same orientation to the pitch as they would have been at FTP). 47,000 fans is probably out of the question, but if the club can sell out the entire lower bowl and curtain off the upper deck seats (unfortunately I can’t find the capacity numbers of just the lower bowl/suites/etc. UPDATE: per club Director of Operation and Supporter Relations Ron Deal, each upper deck is about 14,800, meaning full capacity minus those is about 40,200, without club sections is about 27,500), that’s probably a decent outcome.
The July 7 game against Cincinnati is also expected for a move to Nissan Stadium, and the USL’s attendance leaders should help pack the house even more significantly that day.
Where will US Open Cup matches (which are not scheduled far enough in advance to compensate for a minor league baseball team’s home schedule) be played? I would expect a third venue in town…