Nashville SC

Ayre on stadium coronavirus, more

Life for Nashville SC hasn’t been easy. The inaugural season of the Major League Soccer existence of the team made it one game before a natural disaster tore through its community. A second game was finished, but the season has been at a halt in the time since.

“It’s been a challenge,” said CEO Ian Ayre. “I’m a big boxing fan, and it’s a little bit like being a prize fighter: We had really good energy building up to the league, then we had a big issue around our stadium, and felt like we got punched in the face.

“Just after that, we come back, we have an opening game, we have 60,000 people through the gate, then two days later there’s a tornado, smack in the face again. Then we go on the road to Portland which is good – first away game in MLS – then a week later the whole thing grinds to a halt. It has been different.”

The hits have kept coming. The most frustrating thing for Ayre is that, in his analogy, the prize fighter doesn’t even know when he’ll be able to get back up off the mat. The coronavirus situation that is ransacking the country – the entire globe – is one that can’t be predicted.

“We’re speaking regularly with the league. We have a moratorium on training  through April 14, and certainly that’ll move, I’m sure, again. Nobody really knows.”

“Nobody knows. How can anyone know? Nobody knows when the virus will abate in any state or any country, really. We have to all keep planning for every eventuality.”

Nashville has kept most of its players close to home – both per MLS rules and because of the difficulties in traveling.

“They were all here,” Ayre said of his team’s players. “Unfortunately a couple of them [forwards David Accam and Daniel Rios] were displaced by the tornado very early, but A]all of our players I think except for two are in market. They’re two young players, one from our draft class [Jack Maher], who are back home with their families.”

“Once the gyms closed down locally, it’s incredible how supportive those guys were in getting equipment to our guys.”

Maintaining the momentum for when the game of soccer returns will be Ayre’s priority.

“We shocked a few people in MLS when we showed up with the size of our support and the energy and noise that Nashville brought to it,” he said. Our task now is to keep everyone on the boil while we’re marking time in this situation.”

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