The metro city looks to host a few matches for the Men's and Women's World Cup in 2031 and 2033
Source: Tennessee Titans
The Rugby World Cup is an economic boon for any country. With the USA securing the Men's World Cup in 2031 and the Women's World Cup in 2033, Nashville is a prime candidate for becoming a host city.
Is Nashville a Good Host City?
While it does not yet have a Major League Rugby franchise, Nashville is still a prime location to host matches due to its thriving rugby scene, international ties, and growing sports community.
Nashville's Rugby Scene
Nashville's rugby scene is thriving after the COVID-19 pandemic stopped all competition. Currently, the city and its suburbs support multiple adult clubs, high school teams, and middle school programs. The metro area is also home to USA Rugby South's Panther Academy. The academy brings in the best rugby talent across Tennessee and other states including South Carolina, North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, and others.
Nashville is not the only area seeing tremendous rugby growth. Tennessee areas like Memphis and Knoxville are also seeing vibrant increases in participation and better talent performing on national stages. These include:
The University of Tennessee Men's 15s team winning the 2021 Fall Division I Collegiate Club Rugby National Championship
The University of Memphis Men's 7s team taking 2nd place at the 2022 USA Rugby Collegiate National Championships
Knoxville Minx Women's Rugby Club making their first national championship game in 2022
College rugby programs like the University of Arizona, University of Louisville, Life University, University of Tennessee, and Lindenwood University have signed 16+ Tennessee high rugby players for the Fall 2022 season
This growing rugby scene will not only provide a great base of fans to attend World Cup matches but can also capitalize on growing the sport even more in the area once the tournament leaves.
Nashville's Growing Sports Community
Nashville is a growing sports city that has the sports fans, amenities, experience with other events to support World Cup matches.
Professional Sports Teams
Nashville has three professional sports teams in the city: the Tennessee Titans (National Football League), Nashville Predators (National Hockey League), and Nashville SC (Major League Soccer).These three teams are established teams who have done well in attracting fans to the city. In the most recent 2021-2022 season, the teams had the following fan statistics
Titans (American Football) - 12th in average attendance - 68,566 fans/game
Average attendance higher than Chicago (3*), San Francisco (6*), Atlanta (7*), Houston (8*), Washington DC (9*), New England (10*), Phoenix (11*), Seattle (12*), Tampa Bay (13*), Minnesota (14*), Detroit (15*), Miami (18*), Cleveland (19*), Indianapolis (25*), and Pittsburgh (26*) markets
Predators (Hockey) - 4th in average attendance - 18,495 fans/game
Average attendance higher than New York (1*), Los Angeles (2*), Chicago (3*), Philadelphia (4*), Dallas (5*), San Francisco-Oak-San Jose (6*), Boston (10*), Phoenix (11*), Seattle (12*), Detroit (15*), Denver (16*), Miami (18*), St. Louis (23*), Raleigh-Durham (24*), and Pittsburgh (26*) markets
Nashville SC (Soccer) - 4th in average attendance - 28,731 fans/game
Average attendance higher than New York (1*), Los Angeles (2*), Chicago (3*), Philadelphia (4*), Dallas (5*), San Francisco-Oak-San Jose (6*), Houston (8*), Washington DC (9*), New England (10*), Phoenix (11*),
6 home matches into season as of article published
**Total Nashville Homes per Nielsen DMA Rankings - 1.102 million (29th)
These rankings are fantastic when compared to other markets. Simply put, Nashville/Tennessee fans show up to support their teams. Because of this, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Women's National Basketball Association are seeking to expand their leagues to the city.
For the Rugby World Cup, local sports fans, alongside tourists, would show up to watch matches hosted in the city.
While the city boasts a rabid sports fanbase, Nashville also has world-class amenities to host a major event like the World Cup.
The Tennessee Titans football team's stadium has 69,143 seats including 12,000 club seats. Built in 1999, this stadium is bigger than NFL stadiums in Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Miami, Arizona, and Chicago. All of these areas are also looking to host the World Cup.
Not only does the city have a major stadium with the team, but the Titans have announced plans to build a new stadium with the full support of the mayor's office. This stadium will have state-of-the-art facilities and be built in the same accessible location as the old stadium.
Nashville's professional soccer club also just opened their new stadium, GEODIS Park, near the heart of downtown. The stadium holds 30,000 seats for fans and is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and Canada.
When the World Cup comes, the matches will most likely be held at a bigger venue like Nissan Stadium, but GEODIS Park is a sign of how the city is able to develop a high-class park that fans enjoy going to.
Source: The Business Journals
Nashville has many new and exciting venues that look good on TV and enhance fan experience for the World Cup.
Nashville Event Experience
Nashville continues to be a leader in bringing in large-scale events that accommodate thousands of guests. These events include:
2021 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match
2019 NFL Draft - 600,000 fans attended over 3 days
Annual St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Running Series Marathon - 21,000 registered runners and walkers
2022 NHL Stadium Series - 68,619 fans attended game at Nissan Stadium
2017 & 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Matches - 76,095 fans attended
2016 NHL All-Star Weekend
Annual SEC Basketball Tournament (Men's & Women's)
2019 NASCAT Champions Week
With a long history of running large successful sporting events, Nashville is poised to also provide a great experience for those attending the Rugby World Cup.
Nashville's International Ties
While Tennessee's rugby scene continues to grow, Nashville would be a great host city due to its international ties.
As a whole, Nashville hosted 16.1 million visitors in FY 2019-202 which was a 6% increase from the previous year. 5-7% of overnight visitors were international guests in the same year. The city is a prime destination for international guests due to the live music, superb amenities, and close access to many other prominent American cities. The Nashville International Airport also has nonstop flights from England, a tier 1 rugby nation, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
While traveling to Nashville is easy, the city is also a sister city to many areas in tier 1 rugby nations. "[We] connect the people of Nashville to people of the world, promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation," the Sister Cities of Nashville say as their mission statement. The organization arranges travel between groups of various areas in the world for educational and cultural exchanges. These areas include cities within tier 1 rugby nations such as Belfast, Northern Ireland, Caen, France, Kamakura, Japan, Mendoza, Argentina, and Tamworth, Australia.
If Nashville is awarded the opportunity to host, the sister cities' relationships would flourish and provide greater access for fans of these countries to not only come and watch rugby, but to invest in the Nashville in other cultural and intellectual pursuits.
Internationally Born Residents
Nashville also boasts a robust population of state residents who are from other rugby fanatic countries. According to datausa.io, a data platform that visualizes USA government census data, Tennessee has 20,887 residents born in Tier 1 nations and 15,554 born in Tier 2 nations. Residents born here will know what rugby is and want to connect themselves, family, and friends to an event that is culturally relevant to their home country. These people provide a great initial fan base who will want to attend a match in Nashville on top of the tourists and American rugby or sports fans in the area.
Because of Nashville's international travel, sister city network, and internationally born residents, the World Cup matches in the city would be easily accessible to the global fanbase.
Nashville is the perfect city to host the Rugby World Cup. With it's growing rugby community, engaged sports fanbase, amenities to accommodate travelers and teams, and international ties, the city would help grow rugby in America while being a bright spot for the world to watch the sport.
Nashville should be favored by the USA Bid Committee and World Rugby to host 2031 and 2033 World Cup matches.
To show your support, please sign our petition to send to the right decision makers to heavily consider our city.