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Gold Cup’s Arrival a Boon for Nashville SC

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/01/17, 9:46AM EDT


Tournament provides 2018 USL expansion club platform to expand exposure

Nashville SC Head Coach Gary Smith and U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Bruce Arena talk ahead of practice this week / Photo courtesy Nashville SC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Arriving nine months before the club’s first game in the USL, the presence of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Nissan Stadium next week is providing a major boost for Nashville SC’s visibility.

“The timing for us is perfect,” said CEO Court Jeske. “We use these major international competitions like the CONCACAF Gold Cup to expand our reach, expand our message and make sure the region knows what Nashville Soccer Club is building prior to our launch in USL next March.”

Jeske’s extensive experience as an executive at Major League Soccer has given him a personal connection to the Gold Cup in previous editions of the tournament, but he and the club have been thrilled by the manner which other organizations in the city have helped promote the United States’ clash with Panama, and the meeting between Martinique and Nicaragua on July 8.

“Certainly, it’s a personal passion of mine having worked on the CONCACAF Gold Cup the last eight years at MLS, but we had strong supportive leadership from the Convention and Visitors Corp., the [NFL’s Tennessee] Titans and M2N and many others that will make sure this is a success along with the host club role we will play.”

That role of host club has put Nashville SC front and center to a broad audience.

“[It] offers us the chance to connect Nashville Soccer Club to the teams competing in a meaningful way,” said Jeske, “and message the Club and Country dynamic that you can root for your national team during these kind of competitions – the World Cup, World Cup Qualifiers and the Gold Cup – while making sure people know they now have an outlet to support club soccer every day of the year, and that is through Nashville SC.”

As the club works in tandem with the Gold Cup host committee to build its brand locally, what’s happening within the USL on a regional and national level is also catching the attention of fans in the city. With the club’s PDL team putting together a successful season, too, anticipation for what lies ahead next spring is high within the club’s strong base of support.

“This year we are focused on listening to the community and building a soccer movement in Nashville,” said Jeske. “At the same time, I would say we’re excited and thrilled to see the attendance growth, the media expansion and everything that’s going on at the USL. We’ve talked to a lot of our rapidly-growing supporters groups, and they’re ready to join the USL in a big way and incite some rivalries with the likes of Cincinnati, Louisville and Saint Louis.

“We see that as a real differentiation point for our product next year that we can engage with some of the best clubs that the USL has to offer right here in our region.”

And as excited as Nashville SC is to play host to the Gold Cup, the reason the city is an ideal location for the tournament is the same that made it an ideal one for the introduction of professional soccer to the city. One of the hottest cities in the country in terms of growth and profile, Nashville is making its mark as a vibrant locale to live in or visit.

“We have a young, dynamic and surprising to most people a very international population here in middle Tennessee,” said Jeske. “Twelve percent of people in Nashville were born outside the U.S., so if you combine those demographics with the fact that our host venue for the tournament is a short walk from the vibrant downtown area really gives you all the right ingredients.”

That means there’s plenty for those visiting town to do before and after the games at Nissan Stadium should they choose to make a long weekend out of the trip.

“There’s a great food scene, you can go down lower Broadway and experience what thousands of people did during the [NHL’s Nashville] Predators’ Stanley Cup run that gained so much attention, all that there is to do down there,” said Jeske. “There’s museums, there’s architecture, and of course live music through the venues all through the city, whether they be the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and others.”

And when the attention turns to the field – with the likes of former USL standout Dom Dwyer included in the U.S. squad – Jeske will be able to point fans to the types of player fans in Nashville can expect to see when the USL arrives next spring.

“We want people to understand that club soccer has arrived in a big way,” said Jeske, “and that we have the aspirations and the intention that our club will produce players that will fill out the national team rosters in the very near future.”

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