If Major League Soccer comes to Nashville, then Vanderbilt’s football program could potentially play some football games in the brand new stadium that would come with it.
In a statement released by Vanderbilt University on Wednesday afternoon, the university pledged its support to see a professional soccer franchise come to Nashville and said the school would look to arrange possible events in a new MLS stadium if it fits the needs of the university. That specifically included the possibility of Vanderbilt football being played in the stadium.
“We know a new stadium will be part of the success in bringing MLS to our city. To enhance opportunities for our students to branch out and experience more of Nashville, we are exploring the opportunity to lease the proposed new soccer stadium for one or two Vanderbilt events per year. If it meets the needs of our fans, students, alumni and team, this could also include leasing the stadium for a football game, similar to what we have done in the past with Nissan Stadium, which received a great response from our community.”
As the statement suggests, this would not mean Vanderbilt football would move on a permanent basis to a new soccer stadium, but it could be used to potentially host a game or two in a new venue instead of the aging Vanderbilt Stadium. It may not bring in that many more fans for a game, however, so the allure of playing in the stadium may not be there from a financial standpoint. Vanderbilt Stadium currently can hold 40,550. Aside from MLS franchises playing in NFL stadiums, the average size of a stadium designed specifically for MLS purposes typically holds somewhere between 16 and 25,000.
The group pitching for an MLS franchise in Nashville has designed its stadium to hold 30,000 but with the intent to serve dual purposes to host Vanderbilt football on a permanent basis. The group would probably feel more confident about their chances if Vanderbilt jumped all in on the project, but that does not appear to be the case at this time. What the group can probably rely on is the success of MLS in Atlanta as a possible sign MLS soccer is ready to be accepted in the region.