With an effort to land a Major League Baseball franchise taking shape, Nashville mayor David Briley is emphasizing that a new ballpark would have to be privately financed.
Businessman John Loar is leading a group that is exploring the idea of landing Nashville its own MLB franchise, with a new ballpark surrounded by mixed-use development envisioned as part of that objective. It is early in the process at this point, as MLB has not announced formal plans for expansion, but it was revealed last week that the group would meet with league officials this week to learn more about the process of obtaining a franchise.
Although Briley indicated on Tuesday that he thinks MLB would consider Nashville if it does add more teams, he noted that there is still much to be determined, including if/when the league will launch an expansion process. He also emphasized that any new ballpark would have to be a privately led initiative, as public funding will not be on the table. More from FOX 17 News:
“I think there’s still a lot of work to be done before it becomes more of a possibility,” Briley said. “MLB has to decide first they’re going to expand, and then I think Nashville will be on the list, but a lot of work to do.”
This work includes the discussion of building a new stadium, which Briley said wouldn’t include any public funds.
“I think I’ve made it pretty clear it’s going to be a privately-led initiative, and whoever wants to expand is going to have to figure out a way to build a stadium on their own,” Briley said.
From the league’s perspective, there are issues that would have to be settled before formal expansion plans could proceed. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has openly shown interest in eventually jumping the league’s number of teams from 30 to 32, but has also stressed the need for the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays to resolve their new ballpark searches before any expansion could move forward. Neither is publicly expressing interest in a move at this point, as the A’s are making progress on a proposed ballpark at Oakland’s Howard Terminal while the Rays are locked into a lease for Tropicana Field that runs through 2027 and have not ruled out the idea of trying to find a solution for a new ballpark in St. Petersburg.
At the local level, Nashville has committed to a new soccer-specific stadium that will open for upcoming MLS expansion club Nashville SC in 2022, and the market already includes NHL and NFL franchises. Nashville is also home to a very successful Minor League Baseball franchise in the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), who have played at First Tennessee Park since its opening in 2015. All indications are that First Tennessee Park cannot be expanded to MLB standards, so in that case any effort to bring MLB to Nashville would require a new ballpark.
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