HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Professional soccer is coming to Huntsville’s Joe Davis Stadium. Mayor Tommy Battle announced a partnership with the Nashville Soccer Club (SC) to launch its next MLS NEXT Pro team in Huntsville in 2023. The inaugural season of MLS NEXT Pro, a new professional men’s soccer league, began in March with participation from 21 clubs.
“Soccer has consistently been one of the most popular and fastest-growing sports in our region,” said Mayor Battle. “When the City decided to renovate Joe Davis Stadium and convert its playing field to a multiuse field, we hoped pro soccer would find a way here. Today, we are proud to deliver this exciting sports amenity to our community.”
Mayor Battle also added, "the league is committed to driving a new era of North American soccer by offering fresh opportunities to players, coaches, referees and sports business professionals."
“When we started building our MLS team in Nashville, we talked a lot about the key ingredients that made Nashville a perfect soccer city: great energy, strong business community and a real civic pride,” said Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre. “It’s quite obvious in spending time in Huntsville that the same raw ingredients exist here. We could not be more excited about bringing an MLS NEXT Pro team to Huntsville and the amazing stadium project.”
"We're going to have great soccer tournaments here, we're going to have all kinds of youth activities as well as pro activities. The quality of life of Huntsville citizens will really increase because of this project," said Mark Russell, the Sports Commission Executive Director.
But the city has other plans as well. On the east side of the stadium, according to Shane Davis, the director of Urban and Economic Development, they will be working on a mix-use project that includes, "bringing hospitality, restaurants, livability, food hall…it's an investment that's deliberate from this administration to bring a better quality of life in further investments in Huntsville."
And after the announcement, Council Member, Frances Akridge, said that she comes from a family of soccer players and this partnership will inspire the youth.
"We love soccer, we're excited about this elevated level of soccer coming to our city so that all kids from across the city will be able to come here and see themselves in that future."
The renovation of Joe Davis Stadium, located in John Hunt Park at 3125 Leeman Ferry Road, Huntsville, is scheduled to be complete in May 2023. When it opens, the 6,000-seat facility will accommodate other groups, including Huntsville City Schools football games on Friday nights. Its multiuse fields will also be available for ultimate frisbee, rugby and lacrosse, and other events like concerts and religious services.