Three-time World Series champion pitcher Dave Stewart is reportedly leading a group in launching a $2 billion bid to secure an MLB expansion franchise in Nashville, Tennessee.
Per ESPN, the “Nashville Stars” would be the first majority minority-owned team in league history. The Stars name is a callback to the original Negro League team that played in Nashville during the 1940s and 1950s.
Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is also a member of the group, which is looking to land an expansion team within the next three to five years. Before that can take place, however, MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred must first find future homes for the Athletics and Rays. Manfred has said in the past that this was a priority before MLB could entertain expansion. It’s been nearly 25 years since MLB expanded, with Arizona and Tampa Bay joining the league in 1998.
Both Oakland and Tampa Bay have been pursuing stadium deals, with the former making a public bid to move to Las Vegas, while also looking for a new ballpark in Oakland. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, recently promoted a “sister city” concept between its city and Montreal, which was shut down by Manfred in January.
“I spoke to the commissioner a couple of weeks ago and the same thing still remains,” Stewart said. “There are two teams that don’t have homes: the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Rays, so those are his priorities to make sure those places have homes to play in. But once they do, expansion becomes next on the agenda.”
Both the Titans and Predators have enjoyed massive success in the region since coming to Nashville in 1997 and 1998 respectively. In the 2021 season, Nissan Stadium hosted an average of 68,566 fans every Titans home game, 12th-highest in the NFL. The Predators have the third-highest attendance in the NHL this season, with Bridgestone Arena welcoming an average of 18,555 fans each home game.
Just three weeks ago, Tennessee baseball traveled to Nashville to play Vanderbilt in a clash between two of the top teams in the NCAA. The get-in price for a single ticket to all three games of the series was higher than the price for two tickets to all three games of the Men’s Final Four that same weekend, showing the drawing power that baseball has in Nashville.
Expansion in Nashville has been brewing for the past four years, according to Stewart, who was appointed by Music City Baseball to lead its diverse equity ownership initiative.
“We started this process four years ago. Nashville is a fast-growing city. It has a beautiful population of people,” Stewart said. “There’s so much going on here. So, MLB put Nashville as one of its top places for expansion, and I think that triggered the idea to go down this path.”
Photo courtesy of ESPN.
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