Tag Archives: Major League Baseball

MLB in Nashville? Nope

Jesse Spector, national baseball writer for Sporting News, published an online article on July 11, 2017, regarding potential cities for MLB expansion:

Eight cities that make sense for MLB expansion.

In his view, eight cities should be on target: Montreal, Charlotte, Portland, San Juan, Las Vegas, Mexico City, San Antonio, and Nashville.

Nashville? Here we go again. Hasn’t this story been written repeatedly?

I realize it is pure conjecture, but I think we have a long way to go, way down the road. We have no organized movement, no one with big bucks to step up to the plate (pun intended), and no place to play. So how can Nashville be on the list?

Sure, there could be an opportunity for a team to move, but the most logical choices are the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays. Both are in talks to build new stadiums. The Marlins are for sale for $1 billion. Know anyone who wants to buy them and move the franchise to Nashville?

And what would an expansion team cost? More than that.

Music City has only been a “big” city for a very short time, having just recently passed Memphis with Tennessee’s largest population, but there is always the chance of a crash as the growth has happened so fast. MLB would never take a chance on that in the short-term.

Since Atlanta, St. Louis, and Cincinnati are within 4 1/2 hours driving distance, it is doubtful MLB would want to dilute those fan bases. With those three cities being in the National League, Nashville could only become an American League city at that.

One never knows which cities are on the radar for team relocation or expansion unless it is heard straight from the commissioner. He did that yesterday during a press conference in Miami at the 2017 All Star Game:

MLB expansion won’t happen right away but Rob Manfred has three cities in mind

Montreal, Charlotte, and Mexico City top MLB commissioner Manfred’s list. Nashville? Not mentioned…

Lastly, The Tennessean published a story by USA Today’s Getahn Ward about another important subject: the cost of residing in our fair city, which now takes a salary of $70,150 to live in Nashville today:

Nashville ranked nation’s hottest single-family housing market

Nashville ranks as the No. 1 single-family housing market, according to the source in the article; the other the top five cities include Orlando, Fla., and Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio, Texas.

Key words: “single-family”. Which means, “on a budget”. To take it a step further, which single families are taking the crew to a major league game right now? According to statista.com, the average price of a ticket to an MLB game is $31.00. People on a budget certainly are not; according to baseball-reference.com, attendance is declining.

Remember, the NFL Tennessee Titans and NHL Nashville Predators are already here, battling for the same pro sports bucks versus each other. That’s without taking into consideration another potential major sports franchise, Major League Soccer, which would make ticket sales even more competitive.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see the New York Yankees come to Nashville for a regular-season game, but I’m afraid it won’t happen in my lifetime.

Here’s my advice for lovers of professional baseball in Nashville: go watch the Nashville Sounds at First Tennessee Park. They are here, and now. For a while.

© 2017 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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Part 1: Which Direction For the New Nashville Ballpark?

Major League Baseball states in rule 1.04 “THE PLAYING FIELD: It is desirable that the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East Northeast.” Recent renderings of the new Nashville Sounds ballpark do not line up that way.

Old Sulphur Dell was located where it was because the city’s recreational area was there, and with baseball becoming more popular in the mid- to late-1800s an area was dedicated to play. Once the grandstand and field were laid out permanently, the batter faced the southwest toward the State Capitol.

There was no problem with the sun getting into the batters’ eyes if games began before noon. During afternoon games, the sun was definitely a problem. Unfair to the batter, perhaps, but doubtful that too many pitchers or center fielders complained about it.

Over 50 years later it was determined to turn the ball field around so that the pitcher and center fielder would be facing the sun in the afternoon, and the batter would not. Nashville’s baseball following was continuing to grow and a new state-of-the-art, covered grandstand would provide shade for paying customers, too.

After the 1926 season the old grandstand was torn down and a new one was rebuilt and finished in time for the 1927 season. Sports writer Fred Russell reported in the 1940s that the press box view from high above home plate offered a view of the outline of the old base paths.

The batter no longer had to battle the late afternoon sun as he faced the northeast. There was no consideration to add a lighting system at that time as night baseball was being experimented with but not looked upon as a necessity. Fans came to the game at the end of the day and could often be home for suppertime at game’s end.

SD_Concept

Mayor’s Office, Ballpark Site Evaluation Study, November 2011, E-1

Today sun angle is a prime consideration for placing new stadiums. A batter’s line of sight is important along with as many of the players in the field as possible. Safety was, is, and should be an issue.

Space availability is often the most common reason for placement of a ballpark. It is conceivable that with games being played mostly at night there should be no problem with the placement of Nashville’s new baseball stadium based on the direction of the sun.

Perhaps the vista of a downtown skyline is an important aspect of today’s newer ballparks to display the general character of a particular city. But is that view necessary? Looking toward downtown from where the proposed home plate would be, looking to the south directly down Fourth Avenue, is not necessarily the best showing of Nashville’s skyline.

SDBallpark2

Mayor’s Office, Ballpark Site Evaluation Study, November 2011, E-2

Placement of the grandstand and field in 1927 must still have merit. Nashville has commissioned many iconic art displays; why not do the same for something to be viewed to the northeast beyond center field, such as a beacon tower that calls attention to the Cumberland River?

The preliminary concept plans have been published, and eventually they will develop into a final plan. Perhaps the public is just being teased with the original designs.

The question remains: Should Rule 1.04 be merely a suggestion?

© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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