TAMPA, Fla. - The United Soccer League has awarded an expansion franchise to DMD Soccer, a Nashville-based ownership group, to own and operate a team - USL Nashville 2018 - beginning with the 2018 USL season. In addition, the ownership group has confirmed that it will host a public event in mid-June to roll out its overall vision for the new team.
The DMD Soccer ownership group is made up of a group of prominent and successful Nashville-based investors that includes David Dill, the President and Chief Operating Officer of LifePoint Health.
The group also includes Marcus Whitney, the President of Jumpstart Foundry, a seed-stage healthcare innovation fund. Whitney is an award-winning executive, self-made entrepreneur, active venture capitalist and a celebrated public speaker.
Rounding out the primary ownership group is Christopher Redhage, co-founder of ProviderTrust, who has started and leads a successful set of healthcare, technology and entrepreneurial ventures. Redhage brings a strong soccer background to the team, having been named a Nebraska High School Player of the Year, and having played Division I soccer at University of Richmond before playing at various professional levels. Redhage later coached at the University of Nebraska before entering private business.
"We are very proud and excited to welcome Nashville to the USL and look forward to a very rewarding partnership with David, Marcus, Christopher and the entire DMD Soccer team," said Alec Papadakis, Chief Executive Officer of the USL. "We have long identified Nashville as a USL destination due to its economic vibrancy and growing millennial and international populations. DMD Soccer group met all of our tenets of strong local ownership groups, achievable soccer-specific stadium plans, and a passionate soccer fan base."
Nashville is the largest city and capital of the state of Tennessee, and the fourth-largest city in the southeastern United States. The Nashville market ranks as the 36th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the 29th largest television market (Nielsen Media Research) in the country.
"It's an incredible opportunity to bring professional soccer to Nashville, and I am excited to partner with the USL, Marcus and Chris to make this vision a reality," Dill said.
According to the Tennessee State Soccer Association there are more than 41,000 registered players, primarily youth, and approximately 5,000 active coaches, referees and administrators through 105 local member organizations across the state of Tennessee.
The U.S. Women's National Team drew the largest crowd to attend a USA women's match in the state of Tennessee - 25,363 fans - on March 6 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. That followed a state-record crowd of 44,835 who saw the U.S. Men's National Team defeat Guatemala at Nissan Stadium on July 3, 2015.
The Mexican Men's National Team will make its first trip to Nashville on Oct. 8, with El Tri to play its match at Nissan Stadium.
"The rise of soccer support in Nashville coincides with our reputation as a vibrant, welcoming city," Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said. "My administration has been committed to supporting the growing number of soccer players and fans in Nashville, and the news today is another example of how our city is on the fast track to being a premier city for soccer in the Southeast."
As the "home of country music," Nashville has become a major music recording and production center and headquarters of the Gibson guitar company. Since the 1960s, Nashville has been the second-largest - after New York - music production center in the U.S. Renowned as a music recording center and tourist destination, the city is also a center for the healthcare, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home to numerous colleges and universities. Nashville's largest industry is healthcare and is home to more than 300 healthcare companies.
The automotive industry, namely Nissan North America and Bridgestone, plays an important role for the entire Middle Tennessee region. Nissan North America relocated its corporate headquarters to the area and also has its largest North American manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Bridgestone has its North American headquarters located in Nashville, with manufacturing plants and a distribution center in nearby counties.
Other Fortune 500 companies with offices within Nashville include Dell, Hospital Corporation of America, Bridgestone, Community Health Systems, Tractor Supply Company, UBS and Dollar General.
In recent years Nashville has ranked No. 5 on Forbes' list of the Best Places for Business and Careers, Forbes put Nashville as the 4th Best City for White Collar Jobs, and Business Facilities' 11th Annual Rankings report named Nashville the number one city for Economic Growth Potential.
The 2016 USL season sees 29 teams competing across the United States and Canada, with the League having already confirmed the addition of Reno 1868 FC for the 2017 season.