With MLB commissioner Rob Manfred being positive about an eventual expansion of the number of MLB clubs from 30 to 32, businessman John Loar is leading an attempt to bring MLB to the country and western capital.
To explore the possibility of an MLB team in Nashville, Loar has formed Music City Equity Group to focus on bringing a future franchise to the city and on combining a ballpark project with a larger mixed-use development. He has had previous conversations with public officials about his effort, but there is much that remains to be explored at this point. MLB has not announced formal plans for expansion and Loar has to figure out where an MLB team and ballpark would fit into a market with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, NHL’s Nashville Predators, and a future MLS expansion team in 2020.
Loar’s initiative is not supported by MLB, as he hasn’t talked with the organization yet. He claims he is self-funding his analysis and he has no formal agreements with investors yet.
As long as the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays have not settled their ballpark search, MLB will not expand, Rob Manfred stated. Perhaps a move of one of both to Nashville may be a solution.
Currently, Nashville is home to the Pacific Coast League (AAA) Nashville Sounds. Recently the Sounds signed a new Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Texas Rangers, who were expected to sign a deal with San Antonio. But the uncertain ballpark situation, made them decide to sign with the Sounds.
In 2015, the Nashville Sounds moved into a new ballpark so one can wonder if luring an MLB club isn’t a waste of money. Nashville has strong competitors in Montreal and Charlotte NC. Other cities that could become home to an MLB franchise are Portland and Las Vegas. But the candidacy of the latter two may raise some questions. Portland didn’t manage to keep an AAA franchise in the past forty years and the former Las Vegas 51s, now called the Las Vegas Aviators, will leave Cashman Field and move into a brand new ballpark in Summerlin. Talk about a waste of money if MLB comes to Vegas.
Anyhow, the attempt to bring Nashville an MLB franchise is still very young. It remains to be seen if the initiator can persuade the city council and MLB to make Nashville an MLB city.