One issue when a team opens a new ballpark: how fans will react to a totally different operations mode. Judging from the reaction of Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) fans, First Tennessee Park is already a huge success.
If there’s any Triple-A town where the fan base would react to a new ballpark with lots of places for entertaining and socializing, it would be Nashville, the city built upon such a relaxed lifestyle. And while there’s plenty of competition for the Nashville entertainment dollar, the Sounds are quite competitive, as attendance figures would indicate, per the Nashville Post:
Whether people are meandering about or settling in for nine innings of Class AAA baseball, they are showing up. Through the first 16 home games of this season, the average attendance has been 7,034 – an increase of 43 percent over last year.
There have been three sellouts thus far. In addition to the home opener on April 17, the Sounds played to full houses last Friday and Saturday, the first back-to-back sellouts since August 2005.
“This had to be a place to not just come and watch baseball,” said General Manager Garry Arthur. “We’re trying to create this sense of community, the sense that this a great meeting place. We’ve placed an awful lot of emphasis on not just taking the space we have and adding seats. … We were trying to make this as comfortable a place that people can come and that’s why you see what you see.”
It was an offseason of big changes for the Sounds, who also signed a new parent in the form of the Oakland A’s. Ironically, one of the reasons for the shift — the A’s consistently yield winning teams at Triple-A — has proven to be a nonissue with fans, as the team is well under .500 for the season. But the fans don’t care, apparently.