Talks of MLB to Nashville heat up

Published 11:18 am Friday, June 30, 2023

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The Center Square

If Major League Baseball expands to 32 teams, Nashville continues to be a favorite to land one of two new teams.

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While there is no timeline for expansion, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has continued to hint it is coming after stadium deals for the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics are finalized. Last week, the Las Vegas Legislature passed a deal in special session to give $380 million in public funds to the team if it moves to nine acres of what is now the Tropicana Casino. Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo later signed the deal.

In The Athletic’s annual MLB player poll, 69% of players say that they prefer Nashville to become the league’s next host city while Montreal was a distant second at 10%.

Meanwhile, says Nashville has the best odds (+150) of landing a team, followed by Charlotte (+250), San Antonio (+350), Salt Lake City (+400) and Orlando (+500).

Both MLB and a group called the Nashville Stars have been funding a push in the city. The Nashville group is fronted by former Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart and has hired former New York Yankee Don Mattingly as an advisor.

While the group has claimed it is looking to build a stadium in North Nashville with “almost all private funding,” MLB hired a set of lobbyists March 15 who have a history of pushing for publicly funded stadium projects, including working for the National Football League and Tennessee Titans on a $2.1 billion stadium project and Bristol Motor Speedway on its Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway project, proposed to include up to $100 million in public revenue bonds.

The group of lobbyists include Catie Lane Bailey, Annie Beckstrom and Mack Cooper of Holland and Knight along with Nicole Osborne Watson, wife of Tennessee Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson and Fred Thompson.