Nashville SC

Ian Ayre, Chad Emerson named to Nashville MLS Next Pro executive team

Emerson (left) and Ayre, courtesy Nashville SC

Nashville SC’s MLS Next Pro affiliate in Huntsville will share a top executive with the senior team, while the Huntsville, Ala.-based group also knows who will lead it on the business side. From Club release:

Huntsville, Ala. / Nashville, Tenn. (Sept. 22, 2022) – Nashville Soccer Club today announced CEO Ian Ayre will also serve as President of the club’s MLS NEXT Pro team in Huntsville, Ala. and introduced Chad Emerson as the Managing Director of Business Operations for the MLS NEXT Pro club. Emerson is the former founding CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc. (DHI), a champion for a vibrant and economically strong Downtown Huntsville, where he held that position since 2013.

“Hiring Ian to be the CEO of Nashville SC was the best decision I have made as owner of the organization,” said Owner John Ingram. “Naming Ian President of the Huntsville MLS NEXT Pro team signals our commitment to making this project a tremendous success. Ian’s experience and understanding of what it takes to get a club up and running put us in an excellent position in Huntsville.”

“I am pleased to have found somebody with Chad’s local experience to lead our business efforts for our NEXT Pro team,” said Ian Ayre, CEO of Nashville SC and President of Huntsville NEXT Pro. “As we saw during the building of Nashville Soccer Club, having key people who know and understand the local market are crucial in shaping the club and the business to fit with the city.  I feel confident that Chad and the team we assemble can build something unique and fitting for the City of Huntsville.”

Emerson has been the driving force behind transforming Huntsville’s downtown into the thriving cultural and commercial center it is today. Under his leadership, DHI won several awards including multiple International Downtown Association awards for placemaking and unique downtown projects and the city’s recent ranking as the #1 city in America to live by U.S. News & World Report.

Prior to his role at DHI, he served as the director of city development for Montgomery, Ala., as well as a consultant to more than 30 different cities on downtown and urban redevelopment strategies, and he was a professor of law in the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University.

“The Huntsville success story is built on a great quality of life and incredible collaboration,” said Emerson. “Thanks to the vision and leadership of the City of Huntsville and Nashville SC, we’re excited to bring MLS NEXT Pro to Huntsville as a new quality of life amenity and a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with our North Alabama communities.”

Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre, who has held the role since 2018, has been an integral piece to the club’s success in its first three seasons as an expansion side and will continue to help grow the organization as President of Huntsville NEXT Pro. The former CEO of Liverpool Football Club and English Premier League CEO of the Year has helped Nashville SC reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in every season and achieve a top-five average attendance among all MLS teams in its first year at GEODIS Park, the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. and Canada.

Huntsville MLS NEXT Pro will bring professional soccer closer to fans and supporters in North Alabama, and the team will make Joe Davis Stadium its home following completed renovations in May 2023. For more information, click here.

MLS NEXT Pro completes the integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams and allows young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents while competing for an MLS NEXT Pro championship.

Nashville SC release

Putting the head of Nashville SC atop the Huntsville org chart indicates one of two (diametrically opposite, to be fair) priority levels: either that Huntsville will be taken with the utmost seriousness… or that it’s going to be pretty far down the list of priorities for a guy whose primary gig is Nashville SC. It does make sense to have an integrated business side, so at the very least there are economies of scale in Ayre’s responsibilities that will benefit Huntsville.

Emerson is the local flavor and will be the boots on the ground in Huntsville, with plenty of experience leading their downtown development authority.

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