Men in Blazers Praise Nashville as Up-And-Coming Soccer Market
NASHVILLE - Broadcasting from downtown Nashville at the Polk Theater at TPAC on Tuesday night, the Men in Blazers walked on stage to a thunderous ovation from a packed crowd of soccer fans.
It was the reception that used to be reserved for the music stars that have graced Nashville's famous stages. With MLS on the horizon, even two podcasters that typically record from the crap part of Soho got a rousing welcome in the Music City. Tuesday night's show featured special guests, including Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Taylor Lewan.
This wasn't the first trip to Nashville for Roger Bennett and Michael Davies even this year, and there's a good reason why this city is constantly on their itinerary.
"It's the face of the New South," Bennett said. "I'm from Liverpool and it really reminds me of Nashville, a city of incredible history, incredible tradition, connection to music, a city that lost its way slightly in the 1970s and 1980s, then re-found itself through culture, through sports, just the passion of the people. It's mixed it all together, the music, into an unbelievable concoction that is irresistible, unique and got its own swagger. To be here is a unique delight, a city like no other, and now [soccer] just pushing through to the front. It's got everything."
Nashville is just one of a number of southern cities that has seen soccer undertake a meteoric rise to relevance. With the game growing so much across the country, it was natural for Nashville to join in on the fun.
"You say five years ago Nashville was not on the soccer map in this country," Davies said. "I'm not sure there was a soccer map in this country five years ago. Nashville is riding the wave of the massive growth of soccer in these here United States."
Bennett also pointed to the evolving demographics of the city as a reason why soccer, and MLS to be specific, will be yet another smash hit in Nashville.
"You have a new demographic mix moving into this area," Bennett said. "You walk around here and you see crane after crane after crane, and you see a city that is constantly building. You see people flocking here. 400,000 new Nashvillians every single year. It's more than that. We just moved here while we've been chatting. When you have that, you have individuals who want to root for something. They come with their own NFL teams, they come from Atlanta they already love the Falcons, if they come from Chicago they already love the Bears. They've got their own pre-affiliations, they want something they can root for, and that will be the soccer team."
With Nashville SC kicking off in MLS in less than a year, the Men in Blazers have no doubt that this city will become the next great soccer success story.
"MLS is going to be successful in Nashville for a few reasons," Davies said. "A great chief executive, Ian Ayre, he's been to the big clubs, he knows what he's doing. You've got the stadium at the Faigrounds that's growing by 10,000 every single week. Ambitious, the New South, football, MLS, soccer is working in the New South, Rog. It's going to be huge competitive rivalries against Atlanta, against Orlando, against any other city in the South."
"You also see what the Predators did," Bennett added. "They remade hockey culture, infused hockey culture with Nashville culture, created honestly a role model for other teams in the NHL. I have no doubt that Nashville SC will do exactly the same."
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