NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first renderings of a MLS stadium at Fairgrounds Nashville are spectacular, and it’s hard not to get fired up at the possibility of it being a centerpiece of yet another neighborhood renaissance in Music City.IMG 1236

It’s far more difficult to get fired up about the possibility of it also being home to Vanderbilt’s football team.

Per The Tennessean: “The stadium is envisioned as a ‘dual-purpose’ facility in case Vanderbilt University wants to move forward with a proposal to share the stadium with MLS and make it the new home of their football team.”

The paper quotes Vanderbilt's vice chancellor David Williams as open to the idea.


"At Vanderbilt, we regularly assess new opportunities, and we'll do the same with this," Williams said. " And if we think that it emerges that this vision provides an opportunity for our team, our fans and our community, we are very, very open to exploring that possibility." 

John Ingram, Vanderbilt’s most prominent booster, is also the head of the city’s MLS group. He’ll ultimately get what he wants though he's technically recused himself from Vanderbilt's decision.

We need to do all we can to make sure the people in power don't decide football games should be off campus at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt Stadium needs to be massively renovated or rebuilt or the school needs to build a new on-campus stadium. Metal bleachers don’t cut it in 2017. My radio colleague Chad Withrow has long proposed that Vanderbilt refurbish the stadium and make it the most unique venue in the SEC. Decrease capacity from 39,790 and make it a Fenway Park/ Wrigley Field/ Lambeau Field kind of experience, albeit with a far less fabled history.

In no way am I comparing Ivy League football to the SEC.

But I went to Columbia in New York, where the football stadium and athletic complex for soccer and lacrosse are 102 city blocks, 11 subway stops and over five miles from the center of campus. When I was there, and for most of its modern history, the team stunk. And getting students to travel to games was an incredibly tough sell.

The Fairgrounds isn’t as far from Vanderbilt as the Baker Field complex is from Columbia's campus. But it's not that different.

The MLS stadium site is roughly 3.7 miles from Vanderbilt’s main address.

That’s not far, and a new stadium would be a lure -- for at least a game.

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But on a campus that has trouble getting students to games at a building most can walk to, it’s a terrible idea to ask them to drive or hop a shuttle. At a school lacking a storied football history without a big tradition of student presence at games, taking those games further away is a horrible idea. (Meanwhile, it would make for a far better experience for the fans of SEC opponents, who already come to plenty of road game in Nashville. They'd flood the place.)

James Franklin built the Commodores' program up to a place many of us weren’t sure we’d ever see. Derek Mason has Vanderbilt in a pretty good place, where it is capable of beating Tennessee and can get to bowl games far more often than it has historically.

Don’t take that and put it 3.7 miles away on Saturdays. It would be a monumental mistake.

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