Nashville’s MLB Hopes Grow with Addition of Dave Dombrowski

 In Baseball, MLB, Nashville, Sports

I wrote about Major League Baseball potentially coming to Nashville years ago, citing that it would be a great cultural fit with the city and that our population had grown enough to support a franchise based on comparisons to active MLB cities. Since then, it’s been a bit of a pipe dream – rumors have resurfaced over the last few years (including one that Nashville was going after the Orioles). But, if Music City Baseball has anything to say about it, this hope and these rumors will one day materialize with a MLB team in the Music City. They certainly got a boost yesterday when news broke that they’d brought former Boston Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski on board as a “baseball adviser.”

On his decision to join Music City Baseball (courtesy of ESPN):

“It’s clear to me that Nashville is ready for Major League Baseball, and Music City Baseball is making smart and exciting decisions as it works to bringing a team here,” Dombrowski said in a statement. “From its relationship with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to its community support, Music City Baseball has built a strong foundation.”

This is a huge get for Music City Baseball, and the fact that it’s national sports news this morning is incredible. Dombrowski has been working in MLB since 1978. The man has two World Series rings (Marlins in 1997, Red Sox in 2018). He knows a thing or two about baseball. He joins a group of baseball advisers that already includes Tim Corbin, Dave Stewart, and Tony LaRussa.

Factor in that the man who’s responsible for all day-to-day business operations for the organization, John Loar, is the same man who has led acquisition efforts for two MLB franchises, and executed the sale of the Seattle Seahawks, and this group is definitely gaining some momentum in the national conversation surrounding MLB expansion. We’ve ventured far beyond the territory of whispers and rumors thanks to the work of Music City Baseball – I mean, they’re bringing people on board that MLB will listen to.

But, they’re also committed to honoring the tradition of Nashville, and making sure there’s a diverse ownership group in town to boot.

Courtesy of the Nashville Business Journal, on the organization of Nashville Baseball Investment Group LLC (NBIG), a group of African American business leaders in the community who are investing in Music City Baseball and their mission:

“Nashville Baseball Investment Group has a quest to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville and ensure that the future franchise provides profound opportunity for our African American and diverse communities,” Johnson said in a news release. “For us, this means having both an equity and leadership role in the franchise long-term. Our fund provides a breakthrough way for African Americans and young professionals to have ownership in the MLB team here, and we are so pleased that Music City Baseball embraced and encouraged this novel investment concept.”

We – the citizens of Nashville – have known for awhile that baseball could work at the major league scale here. We’ve seen the emergence of the Preds fan base as one of the best and most passionate in the NHL. We saw what a party this town threw whenever the Stanley Cup Final came to town. We’ve seen the growth of Nashville SC, and how they’ve cultivated a strong fan base in a short amount of time. Us locals know what the plethora of bars, restaurants, and entertainment options mean to the human desire for drunken debauchery. It’s a city that is on a trajectory to becoming one of the premier sports destination cities in the country – maybe the next wave of the Miamis and Las Vegases in the sports world.

And, that’s not a bad thing. I know the diehard sports fans out there will hate it – we constantly see visiting fans fill Nissan Stadium on Sundays. But, y’all – those are tax dollars. Not only that, but those people are staying in Nashville’s hotels, eating at Nashville’s restaurants, drinking at Nashville’s bars, and buying cowboy boots at Nashville’s shops. Some groan at the tourism economy, but the reality is that it brings in a ton of money for our city (when it isn’t locked down due to a global pandemic).

I think it took something like the NFL Draft to really solidify and validate the belief that Nashville was ready for big time sporting events. That was a ROARING success, and all of the positive pub for it makes it sound like the national conscience finally woke up to what a fun place Nashville is.

Now, if you can bottle that up and sprinkle it out over the course of a MLB season, you’ll have something special on your hands. But, that’s the second challenge. The primary challenge is simply getting the team in the first place, and as desirable as it sounds, there are still plenty of operational questions that won’t be so pleasant to sort out.

For instance, where would a potential MLB team play in Nashville? Could they upgrade First Horizon Park to meet the needs of a MLB team? What would the Nashville Sounds have to say about that? Do you build an entirely new stadium specifically for MLB? Who’s going to pay for that? How’s that going to go over when Nashvillians were just hit with a 32% tax hike because of the coronavirus?

We’re just beginning to peel back layers of the onion here, but the reality is….we don’t even have the onion yet.

But, because what were once just whispers and rumors have turned into legitimate work at the hands of Music City Baseball, their investors, and their advisers, it feels like after the last several years, we’ve at least built a solid foundation for real conversations about the prospects of MLB in Nashville.

It’s a start.

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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Image courtesy of @tannerboriack on Unsplash!

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