It was a great celebration of soccer and the entire state of Tennessee. The first MLS game ever was played at GEODIS Park in Nashville, with over 30,000 spectators sitting in the stands. This is an all-time attendance record in the United States when considering soccer-specific venues.
The opening of GEODIS Park marks the final chapter in owner John Ingram's six-year battle as he persistently pursued his goal of Major League Soccer in Nashville. It all began in 2016, with he himself becoming the majority owner of the franchise just a year later. It's safe to say he succeeded... with interest! The $335 million stadium is the largest soccer stadium in the US and Canada as of May 1, 2022.
The grand opening did not take place without some minor complications. Just a few days before the game, the media highlighted the low availability of parking lots in the area. The stadium surroundings alone offered space for just 5,000 cars. With more than six times as many fans expected at the venue, the local authorities and police had to intervene.
Limited parking spaces and poor access to public transport during the weekend did not, however, prevent fans from showing up at the stadium for the opening game. The hosts drew with Philadelphia Union 1:1, which can be considered quite a success taking into account the course of the match (Nashville made up for the loss in the 85th minute) and the position of the leader of the Eastern Conference, occupied by the visitors. Sunday's Nashville SC result also extended the club's unbeaten streak at home to 20 consecutive matches.
The stadium sold out to the last seat, and with 30,109 fans in the stands, GEODIS Park is now on every soccer fan's lips in the United States. The opening also impressed the visiting coach from Pennsylvania.
It's loud here - Jim Curtin said after the game.
It’s as loud as any place we’ve ever been in - emphasised the Philadelphia Union boss.
When the final whistle blew, the players saluted the fans who had cheered them on for a breathtaking 90 minutes. The players gathered together to sing the club anthem "Never Give Up On You" with the supporters and the performers of the song themselves, Judah & The Lion.
The crowd was magnificent - added hosts Head Coach Gary Smith at the very end.
The stadium took a relatively short time to build, with the entire construction process lasting just over 20 months. Previously, “the Boys in Gold” played over two seasons at the massive, nearly 70,000-seat Nissan Stadium, which is also home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. Interestingly, the Nashville 'colossus' was built 23 years ago at a lower cost than the football club's new facility.
Fans will be able to celebrate the opening of the stadium for the next few weeks. After spending the first eight MLS matches "on the road", Nashville SC will host five of the six consecutive games in all competitions. After nine gameweeks, the Tennessee team sits in 9th place in the Western Conference with as many points scored as the 7th Houston Dynamo.