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Emerson named Huntsville pro soccer club executive

HUNTSVILLE — Chad Emerson has been named managing director of business operations for Huntsville’s MLS NEXT Pro club, the Nashville Soccer Club announced Thursday. The club also announced CEO Ian Ayre will serve as president of its MLS NEXT Pro team in Huntsville.

Emerson is the former founding CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc., a position he held since 2013 until resigning last month.

“I am pleased to have found somebody with Chad’s local experience to lead our business efforts for our NEXT Pro team,” said Ayre. “As we saw during the building of Nashville Soccer Club, having key people who know and understand the local market are crucial in shaping the club and the business to fit with the city.

“I feel confident that Chad and the team we assemble can build something unique and fitting for the City of Huntsville.”

Emerson has been the driving force behind transforming Huntsville’s downtown into the thriving cultural and commercial center it is today. Under his leadership, DHI won several awards including multiple International Downtown Association awards for placemaking and unique downtown projects and the city’s recent ranking as the No. 1 city in America to live by U.S. News & World Report.

“The Huntsville success story is built on a great quality of life and incredible collaboration,” said Emerson. “Thanks to the vision and leadership of the City of Huntsville and Nashville SC, we’re excited to bring MLS NEXT Pro to Huntsville as a new quality of life amenity and a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with our North Alabama communities.”

Prior to his role at DHI, he served as the director of city development for Montgomery, Ala., as well as a consultant to more than 30 different cities on downtown and urban redevelopment strategies, and he was a professor of law in the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University.

“The Huntsville success story is built on a great quality of life and incredible collaboration,” said Emerson. “Thanks to the vision and leadership of the City of Huntsville and Nashville SC, we’re excited to bring MLS NEXT Pro to Huntsville as a new quality of life amenity and a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with our North Alabama communities.”

Ayre, who has been Nashville SC’s CEO since 2018, has been an integral piece to the club’s success in its first three seasons. The former CEO of Liverpool Football Club and English Premier League CEO of the Year has helped Nashville SC reach the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in every season. The team has achieved a top-five average attendance among all MLS teams in its first year at Geodis Park, the largest soccer-specific stadium in the U.S. and Canada.

Huntsville MLS NEXT Pro will make Joe Davis Stadium its home following renovations in May 2023. For more information, click here.

MLS NEXT Pro completes the integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams and allows young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents while competing for an MLS NEXT Pro championship.

Nashville SC and the City of Huntsville will be announcing more information regarding the team’s identity, brand and schedule in the coming months. For more information on Huntsville’s MLS NEXT Pro Team, visit www.HuntsvilleNextProSoccer.com and follow the club on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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