A bid from Metro to lure Nashville’s first women’s professional sports team was upgraded from a WNBA franchise to a National Women’s Soccer League team.
Market research shows more interest in a professional women’s soccer team than in basketball — although the Women’s National Basketball Association is in expansion mode, according to research presented to Metro officials on Wednesday.
Part of this decision depends on the facilities available. Bridgestone Arena is the leading candidate for a new basketball team, and the upcoming Fairgrounds football stadium – billed as the largest football-only arena in the United States – apparently has more capacity as a host.
The Sports Authority’s Women’s Professional Sports Ad Hoc Committee heard updates from CAA Icon Stadium Development Managers, who held a series of focus groups, surveys and interviews with executives about the possibility to bring a women’s team to Nashville.
Discussions are “ongoing” with both leagues, but no interested majority owners have come forward publicly. Regional companies have expressed a desire for limited sponsorship commitments.
“We deserve it and hopefully we can get through to the front, but you have to have a facility and an owner,” said Butch Spyridon, CEO of Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. “The last thing anyone wants is failure. As we get excited about these things, we have to temper our enthusiasm.”
CAA Icon will deliver a final economic impact study to the committee in February before the Sports Authority board takes up the matter.
“When you think back to when the Titans and Predators came to the area, there were 1.4 million people. There are 2.2 million people now (in the greater Nashville area),” Bryan said. Slater, Senior Director of CAA Icon. “That growth is set to continue. That’s part of the reason for so much optimism around the backing of a new team.”
Only 14% of respondents outright opposed the idea, with more than 80% showing their support depending on the sport, he said.
CAA Icon representatives will return to the committee next month with an economic impact analysis that will estimate the number of participants the new team would likely generate.
“You bring good news,” said committee member Margaret Behm. “It is an impressive report and we are very happy to receive it.”
A sticking point was a low level of interest in memberships from respondents, although more than 12% said they could pay for a premium club room or luxury lounge access.
“I think when we present it to the rest of the board, I really feel like it’s going to be a positive response,” Sports Authority board member Emmett Wynn said. “If you build it, they will come. The interest is there.”
Sandy Mazza can be reached by email at [email protected], by calling 615-726-5962 or on Twitter @SandyMazza.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Bid for Nashville’s First Women’s Professional Sports Team In Soccer