A planned meeting between Nashville MLB backers and Major League Baseball was postponed, with the Nashville group citing the league’s stance on potential expansion as a factor.
Businessman John Loar is leading Music City Baseball (MCB), 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.
However, that meeting has been scrapped for now. Loar and former U.S Attorney General Alberto Gonzales–who serves as chairman of the group’s strategic advisory board–were to represent MCB at the meeting in New York, but Loar said in a statement that the discussion would be postponed until later this summer out of respect for “MLB’s public position on expansion.” More from The Tennessean:
“Respectful of MLB’s public position on expansion, the meeting with Music City Baseball has been postponed until later this summer,” Loar said in a statement. “During this time MCB will continue to lay the foundation for a possible Major League Baseball franchise in Nashville.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last summer named Nashville as one of six cities the league is considering for expansion, but has since clarified that the league must first settle two stadium issues with existing franchises.
“I make more news than I want to make when I talk about individual cities,” he said earlier this month when asked about his mention of Nashville. “I’ve come to the conclusion … that when I talk about individual cities, all of a sudden that produces some perception that that city somehow moved ahead in the process. There is no process.
One of the largest issues for MLB as it relates to expansion is the ongoing ballpark searches of the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, both of which the league wants resolved before moving forward with any plans to add teams. The A’s are making progress on a proposed ballpark at Oakland’s Howard Terminal, but still have to clear several layers of approval before that plan can move forward. The Rays, meanwhile, had discussions of a new ballpark in Tampa end late last year and are locked into a lease for St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field that runs through 2027. As of now, the team has not ruled out the idea of trying to find a solution for a new ballpark in St. Petersburg.
The Nashville group, for its part, would have plenty of work to form a competitive case for an MLB franchise. That includes solidifying ballpark plans, as all indications are that First Tennessee Park–home of the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League)–cannot be expanded to MLB standards, likely requiring a new facility. Any new ballpark plan will also have to be backed by significant private investment, as Nashville mayor David Briley has indicated that public funding is not on the table.
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