Downtown Sports Excitement: Sold-out debut for Memphis 901 FC

Big sports night for Downtown Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis 901 FC kicked off its inaugural season against the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday night.

Fans danced in celebration to welcome back the professional sport in the Bluff City.

"Soccer fans are a little bit crazy but in a good way," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

However, fans say this is a long time coming.

"It's a dream come true at this point, we've been waiting years to do this," said Clayton France, Memphis 901FC Mafia leader.

A group of fans with painted chests were probably the craziest of them all. Spelling may not have been their strong suit, but they definitely had a lot of energy.

“That’s what we want... 25 years since the last professional game, we’re stoked! Stoked! 901! Wahooooo,” said Jordan Pennington, soccer fan

AutoZone Park was packed with more than 10,000 fans with the same excitement, even filling the upper decks.

It was a rocking atmosphere with energy and passion for a brand new team.

"This is one of the biggest crowds in this stadium that I've seen for any sport," said France.

The 901FC game wasn't the only major sporting event downtown Saturday night.

Hours before tipoff, fans were lining up outside FedEx Forum for the University of Memphis Tigers final home game and senior night.

"I came out specifically for senior night, looking forward to it," said Chiquita Willis, Tigers fan.

It was a big night for sports in Memphis.

Now, those thousands of soccer fans are hoping they can keep professional soccer in town for years to come.

"It's going to be so popular, I have no worries," said Strickland.

Unfortunately, 901 FC fell 0-1 against the Rowdies, but that didn’t discourage fans.

“There is an underground culture here for soccer and you’re finally getting to see it explode and it’s time,” said France.

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