NASHVILLE – On the morning of Nashville SC’s inaugural Major League Soccer match, the club and its supporters came together with Atlanta United FC and its supporters to do some good for the city of Nashville.
In conjunction with MLS WORKS, the league’s social responsibility platform, and the Cumberland River Compact, Nashville SC held the Road to Opening Match Day of Service just down the road from Nissan Stadium in East Nashville. As part of the event, over 200 supporters and staff members from both Nashville SC and Atlanta United FC planted over 100 trees near the banks of the Cumberland River. The trees will help capture stormwater and improve the urban tree canopy in the area.
Nashville SC Senior Director of Community Engagement Brandon Hill was thrilled with the turnout and the impact the event had on the Nashville community. He was particularly excited that supporters of both clubs came together for a good cause.
“It was incredible,” Hill said. “I think it kind of speaks to the unity of our league, the fact that we had fans who were passionate about their team to come out. But for the morning before the game, just to spread the message that we can come together to do meaningful things and to contribute service to the community, we’re all together as a league on that front.”
According to Will Caplenor, Program Manager with the Cumberland River Compact, those 107 trees will have a tremendous impact on the ecosystem along the Cumberland River, as well as provide tremendous natural benefits to residents of an evolving East Nashville neighborhood.
“It was completely barren of trees, so it would get really hot in the summer,” Caplenor said. “They provide a ton of shade and it’s definitely having some stormwater benefits too with getting more roots in the ground to absorb more of that runoff. Larger than that, it’s the first phase of a larger project we’re doing to completely redesign that street. We’ll have bioretention cells that will capture stormwater along the side, some protected bike lanes and stuff like that. It was a really awesome gesture to the neighborhood to welcome what’s to come.”
The event was also a boost to the Nashville Mayor’s office Root Nashville initiative, an effort to plant 500,000 trees in Middle Tennessee by the year 2050. Hill was excited to be aligned with a citywide program for the club’s first major community service effort in MLS.
“It just shows that we can do meaningful work,” Hill said. “For us to do something that was really important to the league, to the club and really important to our community, and to do it on our opening day, it couldn’t have aligned better in that way.”
Just days after the event, a major tornado struck East Nashville not far from where the trees were planted. With all that has happened since then, Hill is happy the club got the chance to help restore nature to the area and give those who decide to take a walk or a jog around the area a little bit of natural beauty.
“The actual location where the trees were planted wasn’t affected, but we’re happy that we got a head start in helping rebuild some of the natural environment in East Nashville,” Hill said. “That actual location we were in had been impacted in the past. It was one of the most highly affected areas in the 2010 flood, right along the Cumberland River. It was completely engulfed in 2010. That community was also impacted during the 1998 tornado. It’s a community that is ripe for those types of efforts. It’s definitely even more meaningful given the events of the last few weeks.”