When you ask someone to describe baseball, they might tell you the ivy at Wrigley Field, the Yankee pinstripes, or even peanuts and crackerjacks. Baseball has been in the hearts and minds of millions around the country for generations. There is nothing like putting on your favorite player's jersey and singing take me out to the ball game while watching your favorite team. But for sports fans in Nashville and the Central Tennessee area Major League Baseball has not found its foothold.
With the recent news of the Oakland Athletics moving from the Bay area to Sin City many people in the Nashville area are thinking why not us? The sports market has boomed in the last two decades, the city went from having no major sports franchises to two successful teams the Tennessee Titans and the Nashville Predators. Nashville has also added Nashville SC of the MLS which had its inaugural season in 2020. This leads many to believe that Nashville might be the right spot for an MLB franchise.
Nashville and Tennessee as a whole have no shortage of baseball fandom. College baseball is huge in Tennessee and the South in general. Vanderbilt has been a powerhouse on the diamond winning two College World Series Championships since 2014 and has made five appearances in the World Series since 2011. In 2023 Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Lipscomb all made the NCAA tournament with Volunteers currently in the Super Regionals against Southern Mississippi. On the MLB side, the Braves also have a strong following in the region along with transplants from other parts of the country who bring their fandom of other teams with them.
The question is how is Nashville going to acquire this team? The Oakland A's leaving Oakland behind has given thought to an already established MLB team picking up shop and moving it the Music City. Only one real candidate for relocation and that is the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays struggle with attendance in St. Petersburg, Florida, and their ballpark Tropicana Field is considered by most to be one of the worst facilities not just in baseball but all of sports. There have also been rumors of a departure from St. Petersburg for years with locations such as Nashville, Charlotte, and Montreal being listed.
The more realistic option for a team in Nashville is expansion. The MLB has wanted to expand to different markets and Nashville is a prime candidate. However, many things need to happen to get the ball rolling on the idea. There need to be investors who can pay to have the franchise in the city and there needs to be a way to break ground on a stadium, whether it is privately funded or by city tax dollars.
The Nashville sports market has made been on the rise and a Major League Baseball franchise could be the icing on the cake. Having an MLB team in Nashville would truly make the city one of the top markets in the country and could lead to more expansions like NBA or WNBA. So the question is not if, it is when?
Written by: Alek Kisiel / WNSR Columnist
@AlekKisiel - Follow on Twitter