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Nashville MLS expansion bid gets boost from $275m stadium approval

Major League Soccer has come a long way from 10 teams that started in 1996 to the 22 that kicked off the 2017 season.

The group seeking to bring an MLS expansion team to the city of Nashville scored a major victory Tuesday night, as the city's Metro Council approved a $275 million stadium project by a vote of 31-6 with two abstentions.

The stadium would be built on a portion of the city's fairgrounds, and includes a funding package of $225 million in the form of revenue bonds.

According to the Tennessean, the resolution that passed had some last minute amendments attached, including a clause that makes the investor group liable for any cost overruns due to infrastructure improvements built for the stadium.

The group would also have to pay for any construction costs in excess of what is budgeted.

The approval of the stadium project puts Nashville in a great position to secure one of the two expansion slots that MLS will award in mid-December. The investor group includes local billionaire businessman John Ingram, as well as Mark Zygi, and Leonard Wilf, the majority owners of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.

Impressive crowds turned out for soccer matches earlier this summer, including an attendance of 47,622 at Nissan Stadium to witness a Gold Cup match between the U.S. and Panama.

"It's been a long road as we started this process almost a year ago and so many Nashvillians have been a part of making it happen," said Ingram. "From Mayor [Megan] Barry's leadership, to soccer fans and parents from all parts of our city, and now tonight with our Metro Council, the vision to bring Major League Soccer to our city moves one step closer.

"Of course the final decision on the team won't be ours, but tonight Nashville checked off the final item that MLS needed to see. I'm always proud of this city, and tonight we've shown -- once again -- how we all come together around something important to make Nashville the best it can be."

Ingram's consortium is competing against groups from 11 other cities. In addition to the two groups that will be selected in December, another two will be chosen at a date to be determined.

The other cities are: Sacramento, Cincinnati, San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio, St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, N.C., and Indianapolis.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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