Nashville SC’s reserve team will kick off involvement in MLS NEXT Pro in 2023, but Tennessee will surprisingly not be the host state for the team’s inaugural schedule. 

Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville, Alabama was announced as the home venue for Nashville SC’s MLS NEXT Pro squad on Tuesday, providing a new environment and market for the team to flourish.

It's currently undergoing a 14-month, $28 million renovation makeover to become a modernized multi-use venue, which will also host high school football, ultimate frisbee, rugby and lacrosse, and other events like concerts and religious services. 

While many of the current MLS NEXT Pro clubs play in-or-around the home market of their first teams, Nashville SC will be one of 12 MLS franchises that will begin life in MLS NEXT Pro next season, opening the door to endless possibilities.

“When we launched MLS NEXT Pro, our goal was to bring soccer to new communities and fanbases, and we are thrilled to do that in Huntsville,” said Charles Altchek, President of MLS NEXT Pro. “Having spent time in the city with Mayor Battle and his team, I have seen first-hand the energy and innovation that is driving the city forward. Looking ahead to 2023, we are excited to partner with the City of Huntsville and Nashville Soccer Club to deliver professional soccer to North Alabama and its fans.”

Professional soccer will officially enter the city of Huntsville next year, giving fans a new opportunity to witness the growth of the sport itself and MLS NEXT Pro. North Alabama SC, a member of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), has been a part of the Huntsville community since 2008, providing youth and adults the chance to develop their individual careers. 

Now with the arrival of Nashville SC’s MLS NEXT Pro side, promising athletes will be able to watch a professional organization on a regular basis, something that wasn’t in their backdoors before. While keeping the MLS NEXT Pro squad closer to Nashville might have been the easier solution in regards to future roster call-ups, the distance between the two cities is just under a 111-mile drive.

Although college football has historically ruled in the state of Alabama, several past and current professional soccer players have been able to call “The Cotton State” home. U.S. Women’s National Team legend Mia Hamm, U.S. Men’s National Team defender Chris Richards, and FC Dallas midfielder Brandon Servania have all come from Alabama. Bringing pro soccer to the state opens the door for future players to leave their mark. 

“Soccer has consistently been one of the most popular and fastest growing sports in our region,” said City of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “When the City decided to renovate Joe Davis Stadium and convert its playing field to multi-use fields, we hoped pro soccer would find a way here. Today, we are proud to deliver this exciting sports amenity to our community.”

Nashville SC has quickly grown into one of the more-popular fan bases and franchises in MLS, thanks to the star talent on the roster headlined by Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman. In addition, the opening of Geodis Park in May provided Nashville SC with a glorious new home stadium to enjoy for many years to come. 

More key decisions will come for the franchise in coming weeks and months, but the early decision for Nashville SC to kick off its MLS NEXT Pro club in Alabama is a golden opportunity to link the squad with a potential new group of lifelong fans.