In Nashville’s Stadium Fight, A Stewing Culture Divide | Nashville Public Radio

In Nashville’s Stadium Fight, A Stewing Culture Divide

Aug 28, 2018

Over more than four hours Monday night, Nashvillians shared their thoughts about a proposed soccer stadium.

The Metro Council's public hearing on plans to build the project at the city's fairgrounds elicited passionate comments that revealed divides that go beyond sports — about tradition, development, culture, and demographics.

Like rival sports teams, stadium opponents and supporters wore different colors: red shirts against; blue-and-yellow scarves in favor. Both sides wanted to claim Nashville as their own — whether they'd been in the city for decades or just a few years — yet they tussled over the role of soccer, who it’s for and what good it would do.

Supporters included former Titans star Eddie George, who told the council that soccer would “encourage inclusion and diversity” in Nashville. Spanish-language newspaper publisher Ramon Cisneros predicted that “our soccer team will project Nashville into the international arena.”

Dozens of stadium opponents wearing red and supporters in Nashville SC's team colors of yellow and blue packed the gallery for a public hearing on the proposed stadium.
Credit Metro Nashville Network

Contrast that with opponent Allen Cloyd. With the fervor of a preacher, he described soccer as a “circus” that would come at the expense of people like him.

“We’ve heard newcomers, foreigners, millennials, one after another, stand up here and tell you what they feel and how they love soccer,” he said with disdain.

There was also a divide over the fairgrounds site itself. Some described it as a dilapidated wasteland. But Lynn Tacker argued it just needs some fixing up.

“Everything in this city does not have to be new and shiny,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be glass and stainless steel.”

More than 100 people spoke to the council, which votes next week on the stadium.