MLB would be a perfect fit for Nashville

by Stoney Keeley
credit image to Vanderbilt University

The prospects of Nashville, Tennessee adding another professional sports franchise has been a fun topic of discussion lately amongst the city's sports fanbase. There are houses and neighborhoods popping up all over the area, and long-time residents are starting to notice just how much the city is growing.

And why not? Nashville is a great place to live! Good people, good fun, affordable cost-of-living, and plenty of attractions to keep you entertained. It is the Music City after all! 

My opinion is that Nashville will add another franchise within the next 10-15 years. Remember, these things don't typically happen overnight (Sorry to burn you Baltimore Colts fans...). When it does happen, it will be baseball....and it will be a glorious union. 

Of all of the professional sports in our fine country, baseball is the most tradition-rich, historic game. Sports fans in Nashville are ravenous in matters concerning their teams. While the area is still somewhat of a melting pot of the SEC, most fans have "their" team, and they root for them to the bone. If you're a Tennessee fan....you eat, sleep, and breathe your beloved Volunteers. If you're an Alabama fan, you say your prayers each night followed by an emphatic "Roll Tide."

My point is that, around here, your team is a symbol of pride. Fans cling to the Titans, and you may suggest that Nashville is a football city. Well, you'd be right....but look at what the Predators are doing. 

I've lived in Nashville from the very second I was born, and I don't think I've ever seen a frozen pond, much less walked across one. I knew of one rink in the area where you could rent ice skates and glide the day away on the ice. But hockey? No...hockey was a Canadian sport! That was until the Nashville Predators arrived. I started to learn more about the game, and showed up at games to support "my" team, and now I'm hooked. 

Why?

Because the culture around here is simple: They are our own, and we need to support them. 

Can you imagine having Major League Baseball in a city where all of the traditions of college football mean everything to fans? Don't you think fans would gravitate towards it?

There's already an established culture of baseball in Tennessee. Kids grow up playing it. Dads coach it. Families spend weekends at the ball park. 

Hell, one of the most fun nights in Nashville is going down to Greer Stadium to see the Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds. There's plenty of beer, and there's plenty of baseball. In fact, I don't think you can say you've truly experienced Nashville until you've gotten trashed on Thirsty Thursday and had to call a cab home. 

Seriously...it's a riot! I have seen people so drunk watching the Sounds, that I've thought "Wow...If a foul ball ricochets this way, that man won't even be able to put his hands up to block it!"

Then again, that's just part of the fun, and part of the charm of Greer Stadium. I can't imagine amplifying that experience to the MLB level, where you actually know players and see the best competition in the world. 

I have been fascinated with this topic for awhile now and wanted to really look at some hard numbers. Here's what my research found: 

There are five cities with MLB teams that are comparable in population size to Nashville: Milwaukee, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle, and Washington, DC. The average population of these  five cities is 624,276...the population of Nashville is 624,496. So, that's actually a really close sample....let me high-five myself for a moment. 

The average capacity of the five stadiums these teams play in is 45,449 people. Based on average, that means the stadiums are being built to hold about 7.28% of the city's population. Applying that formula means that Nashville would project to have a stadium with a capacity for 45,463 people...that's IF they are to fit in with the average here. 

The average percentage of the capacity actually filled amongst the five cities sampled is 64.6%

So, tie in the averages of these other comparable cities, and Nashville would have to have an average attendance of 29,369 people. Is that realistic? At this time, no. But in the future? Absolutely! 

We can't be fooled into thinking that just because an opportunity lies in Nashville, that it will happen. Nashville would still have to present a better case than several other cities. There are a couple of larger cities that don't currently have MLB teams...San Jose, Columbus, San Antonio. In my opinion, the biggest competition would come from Charlotte, NC and Indianapolis, IN. Both are emerging cities with enthusiastic sports fans. 

Below is the raw data I gathered...just in case you want to take a look! 

Cities comparable size to Nashvillle
Milwaukee 41,900(capacity of stadium)/598,916(population)
Baltimore 45,971/621,342
Washington DC 41,418/632,323
Denver 50,480/634,265
Seattle 47,476/634,535

Capacity percentage
Milwaukee 83.4%
Baltimore 58.6%
Washington DC 72.3%
Denver 64.3%
Seattle 44.4%

Average - 45,449/624,276
Target Percentage - 7.28% of the population of the city

Nashville's population - 624,496
Projected stadium capacity - 45,463
TARGET AVERAGE ATTENDANCE: 29,369

I want to leave you with a thought...

As long as The Sounds have needed a new stadium....why hasn't it been built? Maybe Nashville's decision-makers know something we don't. Would you build a new minor league stadium if you had a plan to lure a major league team here? 

Take care, ya'll!