Early last week the USL announced that Nashville SC, an expansion club that will join league play in the 2018 season, had named Court Jeske to be the club’s chief executive officer.
Jeske has a 16-year pedigree in the sports industry, serving with the US Rugby Union, US Soccer, and has held multiple roles with MLS, from his time at Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) to most recently serving as the Vice President of International Business for Soccer United Marketing, the commercial arm of MLS.
Business of Soccer had the chance to speak with Jeske about his appointment and get his thoughts about his new club and community in Nashville, TN.
This is an incredible entrepreneurial opportunity and won’t be like anything I’ve ever done before. While I’m incredibly proud of my time at MLS, this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, because it’s the chance to build a professional soccer club brick by brick, hire by hire to make it something very special that is woven into the fabric of the community. Those kinds of opportunities don’t come around often in sports.
The league enjoyed its best season yet with regard to total attendance, announcing that close to 1.5 million fans went through the turnstiles at USL stadiums. Literally the following day after the Jeske news came out on the USL’s site, the league announced that Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC would be leaving the NASL and would be joining the USL for the 2017 season. It’s quite a busy time for the league, and expansion is fresh on the minds of every member of the front office staff, every club, and every fan. Coming in as the new boss of an expansion club, Jeske has a long to-do list waiting for him in Nashville, however he had no hesitation when asked what was at the top of his list:
Our priority is to build this club with the fans in mind. So right now we are busy engaging the community, making sure that the people in Nashville understand what we’re doing. That people understand that this is an opportunity for them to be a part of the next professional franchise in Nashville. Everything we do will be true to our motto, “Our town. Our club”.
We will be the first ever professional soccer club to start play in Nashville in 2018. What’s special about Nashville is it’s a rapidly growing, diverse, multicultural city to have all of the right elements to be one of the best soccer cities in the world.
Jeske spoke at length about how critical to the club’s success it was that they get out into the community and work with the fans to build the club, and to do so in a manner that would make them all proud to be a part of it. This holds true for working with city leaders to secure a suitable stadium for the club to play in ahead of the first kick of the 2018 season, something that has been at the core of the league’s focus moving forward for sustainable growth and success. Jeske noted,
We’re working with the Mayor’s administration on a couple of opportunities and that is the work that we have to do very soon to make sure we have appropriate places to play. Nashville has a tremendous sense of cooperation among those different levels of people and I know by working together we’ll be able to find the appropriate solution for everyone.
If one thing was clear, it was that Jeske is proud to be a part of a club with such a “special history” as he remarked, in that it was founded in 2013 by a group of supporters, and it is from this foundation and passion for the sport of soccer in the Nashville area that he hopes to build “one of the best professional sports franchises in North America.”