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Kickin' around some ideas
Photo by Peter Glaser / Unsplash

Kickin' around some ideas

🏟️ The next era for NSC · Nashville bus safety · Homeless census · Metro Arts in disarray · Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

One reason mass public transit is viewed as a necessary expenditure is because cars are prohibitively expensive for poorer citizens. This is objectively true. Prices of both new and used cars have outpaced inflation over the past decade—and wage growth as well, since the start of the pandemic.

One solution that would broaden access to cars and lower their cost would be to reduce regulatory restrictions that, for example, make a car like the barebones Toyota IMV 0– which retails for $10,000 and doesn’t even come with a radio—illegal to manufacture in the US.

The counter argument is that the US highway system is uniquely dangerous compared to other countries, and thus, car safety requirements are necessary. Okay, but what about motorcycles?

Onward.

Happy Monday! Well, I suppose it is happier for some than others. Yes, the start of the work week is typically our least favorite day but if you are employed consider that a small victory. Over the last year and change, Nashville pro teams have made a habit of terminating their head coaches with the Titans canning Mike Vrabel and the Preds mercifully letting go of John Hynes. And last Thursday, Nashville SC coach Gary Smith was sacked. So, without a man to helm the wheel, what’s next for NSC?

Gary Smith was the first and only coach in club history, dating back to the team's inception in 2018 at the USL level. Within two years, Smith helped NSC progress to Major League Soccer and where the team was a constant participant in postseason play. While most new programs to MLS — such as FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami, and Charlotte FC — underwent massive changes in search of instant success, Nashville SC was a beacon of consistency. Always competitive, but never elite.

But as expectations rose, the team didn’t. Six straight playoff appearances may seem exceptional at first glance. But, when you realize no season concluded with a deeper run than the MLS Quarterfinals, things dull quickly. The 2024 campaign brought high hopes for an overly patient fanbase, but a 3-4-5 start was enough for the organization to decide to move on from Smith mid-season. And yet, NSC remains within striking distance of a playoff spot with little more than half the season to go.

Hany Mukhtar has been the heart and soul of the squad since the club’s 2020 MLS debut. However, Mukhtar’s play this year has been pedestrian and many credit that to Smith’s coaching tactics. A fresh new face will undoubtedly be essential for him to flourish once more. Considering a brand new hire in the middle of the MLS season would be nearly impossible, NSC named Player Development Coach Rumba Munthali the interim manager. Few expect him to retain the responsibility permanently, but shaking things up now sends a message to players like Mukhtar that “business as usual” is no longer the status quo as they seek to bring home a title.

Losing is not all that’s at stake. The club boasts the fifth highest attendance average in the MLS. Yet, attendance through the first nine home games of 2024 has leveled compared to last season. Now that the novelty of a ‘new’ MLS franchise has worn off, there is concern about waning spectator enthusiasm as the squad’s record remains underwater.

Rumors are already swirling regarding NSC’s next hire. Per Broadway Sports Media, Nashville may look to flashy names like Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, or Landon Donovan. All have limited managerial experience, but would certainly bring excitement considering their heroic playing careers. However, none strike me as a good fit for either the club or the city. Even reputable coaches like Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena, both having success at the MLS and national level, do not seem to fit the bill.

Nashville does not need fireworks, they need a reboot that will lead to deep playoff runs and an MLS Cup. I expect NSC to focus less on a household name and track down a leader that has had recent success in the MLS with a smaller market franchise. Keep your eyes on former Colorado Rapids coach, Robin Fraser, and former Portland Timbers coach, Giovanni Savarese, who I suspect will be in the mix until the end. MILES HARRINGTON



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Nashville

🚌 Are Nashville Buses Safe? Last week, a convicted felon was arrested after shooting a teen at downtown’s Elizabeth Duff WeGo Transit Center. The 18-year-old victim survived multiple gunshot wounds and is in critical condition; the 31-year-old repeat offender is claiming self-defense.  

Though the safety of public transit has always been a concern— shootings, drug use, sexual assault, and erratic behavior have all plagued Nashville for years—the downtown station has seen more than its fair share of incidents, especially in the past month: during Friday’s media roundtable, a reporter mentioned the three shootings that occurred at Duff over the last month before asking about safety measures.

“I have actually asked, specifically after yesterday, for a review of everything that's happening at WeGo Central,“ O’Connell said in response. He then explained that he’s asking both MNPD and WeGo to give him a “refreshed assessment” of the stations’ security. Earlier in the discussion, the mayor asserted that “we haven't seen as [many] reports of incidents on buses, and I think the operators do a really good job there.” MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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🏚️ Conflicting Homelessness Numbers The Office of Homeless Services released data last week concerning the city’s homeless population. “The good news from that count is that we were down slightly from last year, but we know we still have work to do,” the mayor said during Friday’s media roundtable. He also announced that the city’s first public-permanent supportive housing facility, the Strobel House, will be opening soon on Second Avenue North. Originally projected to cost $25 million, the center includes 90 units and will provide on-site mental health and substance abuse counseling for residents, among other social services.

After O’Connell finished up his announcements, WKRN reporter Jerry Barlar asked the mayor about recent city reports that revealed a 43 percent increase in chronic homelessness over that last year. O’Connell attributed the increase in numbers to better data capture before stressing the need for more housing and mental health facilities. “We know that we've got to continue to make progress with that $50 million [ARPA] investment from a couple of years ago to ensure that we are creating more of that type of housing for people experiencing homelessness,” he said. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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🧮 Count ‘Em The aforementioned count carried out by the Office of Homeless Services occurred on the evening of January 25, 2024, and on the morning of January 26, 2024. More than 100 volunteers coordinated by 27 agencies literally went out and tallied the number of people sleeping outdoors or in their vehicles. This number was then added to the headcount of those staying in shelters. The count came back showing 2,094 homeless, a 1.6 percent decrease from January 2023.

Seems like there’s a fairly significant margin of error here, but our results show more promise than those of San Francisco, where an organization called Tipping Point Community spent $100 million over five years only for the homeless population to increase by 14 percent. Also, aside: shouldn’t it be called the Office of Unhouse Services? DAVIS HUNT

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🎨 In Disarray Metro Arts Executive Director Daniel Singh remains on paid administrative leave even as, for over a month now, the commission has conclusively decided that they want to fire him. With only eleven commission members active after a series of resignations and three absent from Thursday’s meeting, the body barely had a quorum with eight members in attendance.

In the middle of deliberations about Singh’s employment, Commissioner Beverley Watts had to leave to catch a flight, meaning the body no longer had quorum and could not take action on anything. The dysfunction at Metro Arts is mind-boggling. How does a body that can’t even fire someone they’ve agreed to fire or find the time to attend their own meetings exist? DAVIS HUNT

DEVELOPMENT

  • 8-Story Hotel Proposed In Germantown, Along Greenway Trail In Nashville (Now Next)
  • Ex-motel eyed for studio-unit apartment building (Post)
  • Fall start eyed for east side hotel project (Post)
Off the Cuff

✹ FAME (FAME)

📸 An interactive map of the most "notable people" broken down by region. You can sort by Culture, Discovery & Science, Leadership, and Sports & Games (Explore)
Entertainment

THINGS TO DO

View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.

TONIGHT

🪕 Grassaholics @ Dee's Lounge, 6p, $5, Info

🎸 Todd Rungren @ Ryman Auditorium, 7:30p, $35+, Info

🎸 Open Mic Mondays @ Tennessee Brew Works, 6p, Free, Info

🪕 Val Storey, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle & New Monday @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info

💀 Grateful Monday @ Acme Feed & Seed, 8p, Free, Info

🕺 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info