CAA Icon: Nashville would back women's pro team
There is support for Nashville to recruit a professional women's soccer or basketball team at a community and corporate level according to a new consultant's report released Wednesday.
- It's the latest encouraging sign that the effort to bring a National Women's Soccer League or WNBA franchise to Music City is gaining steam.
- Consultant CAA Icon presented its findings on Wednesday to the women's pro sports committee, which is composed of members of the city's Sports Authority board.
- The research consisted of approximately 4,400 web surveys mined from the email lists of Nashville's pro sports teams and interviews with top executives at 16 major corporations.
Why it matters: Nashville has three professional teams in men's sports, but no women's team.
- 53% of those surveyed support the initiative to bring an NWSL or WNBA team to Nashville.
- Just 14% do not support the cause, according to the report.
Be smart: The growing popularity of women's soccer and the need for stars that girls can look up to was cited as the main reason supporters back a NWSL franchise.
- The state's rich history in women's college basketball combined with the lack of a pro men's team were the top reasons for wanting a WNBA team.
The big picture: There is clear corporate support, necessary for any initiative to lure a pro sports franchise. CAA Icon is continuing interviews with corporate executives.
Yes, but: Business leaders were optimistic Nashville could support a franchise, but told the consultant success of a new team would depend on the quality of the ownership group.
- Finding a facility is a major issue for a possible WNBA team. While the city's state of the art soccer facility will be completed this year for the MLS' Nashville SC, which would serve as a perfect home for a NWSL franchise, there were concerns about the options for a basketball venue.
- Bridgestone Arena may be too large for the crowds WNBA franchises typically draw. The city-owned Municipal Auditorium would need major investment in upgrades.
Meanwhile, top WNBA players told the New York Times that the time is right for the league to expand. But commissioner Cathy Engelbert says that while expansion is part of the league's transition plan, it isn't imminent.
- "We're going to absolutely expand down the road, but we don't just expand for expansion’s sake until we get the economic model further along," Engelbert told the newspaper.
Next steps: CAA Icon plans to reach out to the NWSL and WNBA to discuss opportunities for Nashville. The consultant will also conduct an economic impact analysis to determine how much money a women's pro team would generate for Nashville.
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