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Professional soccer coming to renovated Joe Davis Stadium; mixed-use development to connect park to Parkway

HUNTSVILLE – The City of Huntsville scored a big win today when Mayor Tommy Battle confirmed a partnership with the Nashville Soccer Club to launch a Major League Soccer NEXT Pro team here.

The yet-unnamed pro Huntsville team will debut at the renovated 6,000-seat Joe Davis Stadium in 2023.

Battle was joined this morning at John Hunt Park by Shane Davis, director of Urban and Economic Development for the City of Huntsville; Mark Russell, executive director of the Huntsville Sports Commission; District 2 City Councilwoman Frances Akridge; and District 4 City Councilman Bill Kling.

The group of city leaders slipped in another surprise by announcing a multi-use development that will be east of the stadium to to Memorial Parkway.

“The mixed-use development built adjacent to the stadium will make it a much more walkable and fan-friendly environment,” said Davis. “It will likely be built using multiple developers both locally and regionally.”

He said the city hoped to see the first dirt turn on that development by the end of this year.

MLS NEXT Pro is a new professional men’s soccer league of 21 soccer clubs, created to offer new opportunities for soccer players, coaches, referees and sports business professionals. The league completes the integrated player pathway from MLS NEXT through to MLS first teams. It also allows young players and experienced professionals the opportunity to develop and showcase their talents while competing for a championship.

“Soccer has consistently been one of the most popular and fastest growing sports in our region,” said 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.”

Charles Altcheck, president of MLS NEXT Pro, said when the league was launched, it was to introduce the sport to new communities. He said he was thrilled Huntsville was one of those new communities.

“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,” said Altcheck. “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.”

Nashville Soccer Club CEO Ian Ayre said Huntsville’s energy, civic pride and strong business environment made Huntsville another perfect soccer city like Nashville.

“When we started building our MLS team in Nashville, we talked a lot about the key ingredients that made Nashville a perfect soccer city,” Ayre said. “It’s quite obvious in spending time in Huntsville that the same raw ingredients exist here.”

When Joe Davis reopens, it will be a state-of-the-art facility, offering spaces to accommodate groups for a variety of events in addition to soccer – including football, ultimate frisbee, rugby, lacrosse and non-sporting events.

The city will present an agreement with the soccer club to the City Council for approval at its regular meeting Thursday. The contract will allow the city to lease Joe Davis Stadium to NSH NEXTCO LLC, which will operate the facility year-round.

The new team will be affiliated with Nashville Soccer Club and will compete in the MLS NEXT Pro League.

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