Excitement will rage on as the Nashville Sounds prepare for its final season at an aging Herschel Greer Stadium in 2014.
Following the approval of a $150 million new stadium in Nashville’s Sulphur Dell area, which will be shared funding between public and private contributions – it is the answer fans of Nashville have awaited for more than a decade of struggles and failed stadium plans.
It also was the answer Milwaukee needed as the Major League club enters the final year of a two-year Player Development Contract with the Triple A Pacific Coast League team.
The Brewers attempted to seek a partnership with a different Triple A affiliate but due to process of elimination – Milwaukee was “stuck” with Nashville.
Consequently, Milwaukee made it known to Nashville the team will need to seek a rapid solution to replace Greer Stadium.
Tennessee and Nashville officials stepped up to the plate and came forward with a plan to make the Sounds’ new stadium as the main hub of a new downtown redevelopment effort for the City of Nashville.
Reports from Nashville indicate the team plans to break ground for the stadium in January 2014 and anticipate it will open by the Opening Day 2015.
The Sounds are offering season ticket vouchers to fans during the Holiday Season indicating to fans it is the best option on securing the best seats for the inaugural season, according to a Press Release issued by the team:
“The energy from fans surrounding the new ballpark has us excited about the future of Sounds baseball,” said Sounds General Manager Brad Tammen. “There are still eight days remaining this holiday shopping season and we are pleased to provide fans a unique gift giving opportunity that the whole family can enjoy…seating at the Sounds new ballpark.
However, time will tell if Milwaukee decides to extend its agreement with the Sounds after a highly contentious negotiation session in 2013.
In order to see the future of the Brewers’ partnership with Nashville – one must take a glance at the history of both baseball clubs.
After Milwaukee was left without a Triple A team when the Indianapolis Indians jilted the Brewers in favor of working with the Pittsburgh Pirates – baseball officials needed to find a logical pair.
Indianapolis opted out after showing discontent with the Brewers organization in providing the International League squad with top quality prospects.
Both teams entered into a working agreement in 2005 and mutually agreed to continue the partnership through the 2014 season.
As Nashville opens the doors to the new stadium, other Major League clubs looking to find a new affiliate could step up.
And given the track record of Milwaukee’s stadium battle with Nashville, there are multiple reasons whether or not both teams will continue beyond 2014.
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
Nashville could have earned an extension of its Player Development Contract with Milwaukee pending an approval of a new stadium by three governing bodies in Nashville November 11.
The Triple A affiliate struggled for nearly a decade in securing a new stadium to replace an aging Herschel Greer Stadium and drew some dissatisfaction from Brewers’ officials when both sides were negotiating a new PDC after the 2012 season.
After Milwaukee spent time exploring other Triple A options when its contract with Nashville expired, both sides were forced to extend due to no other available partnerships.
There were discussions of a new stadium when Milwaukee agreed with Nashville in 2005 after having the Indianapolis Indians as its Triple A affiliate from 2000-2004.
Brewers Assistant General Manager Gord Ash told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy there was significant progress in stadium discussions since both sides partnered up in 2005.
“From what I understand, there seems to me much better cooperation between the various levels of government this time than there was the last, and the new Sounds ownership group led by Frank Ward has done a tremendous job in
ensuring that they took it step by step,” Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said. “There is a much different tone to this discussion than there was seven or eight years ago.”
Indianapolis agreed to sever ties with Milwaukee after 2004 due to the franchise’s inability to provide the Indians with top prospects.
Consequently, Indianapolis established a PDC with Pittsburgh while Milwaukee was assigned to Nashville as part of a working agreement due to no viable options at the time of its split with the Indians.
Nashville’s new stadium will be at the sight of the old Sulphur Dell stadium which was demolished in 1969.
The location was suggested by Nashville’s government officials due to the municipality’s ownership of the land and cost effectiveness to the Sounds’ economic future.
Mayor Karl Dean announced the Sulphur Dell location will be be home to the Sounds new stadium in an August council meeting and estimated the cost of construction will be $80 million.
Financial comparisons between the prospective stadium and Greer Stadium comes with a wide margin as Greer Stadium is valued at nearly $4 million.
The City of Nashville is looking at the possible new Sounds stadium as the anchor of an urban redevelopment project including residential projects and a parking garage.
“We have a lot of private investors going to do housing, commercial development, mixed use development and it’s going to bring a spark to the area that we need, north of downtown and south of Jefferson Street. That’s exactly what we need,” Metro Planning Commission member Jerry Maynard said.
Nashville’s plan for the new stadium drew some public support at a Metro Planning Commission Public Hearing October 23.
“Imagine if you will, Greer Stadium is as old as the Municipal Auditorium. Would the Predators have that much success at the Municipal Auditorium? I don’t think so,” Sounds season ticket holder Jim Jennings said.
Despite a highly promising look at the future of Nashville baseball, some city officials will be exercising caution as it goes to the final push Monday.
Historically, there were plans in place for a new stadium at different points since 2005 but fell apart at the last minute.
Approval will need to come from the Metro Council, Sports Authority and the state Building Commission.
Brewers Farm Report
Portland Beavers, Pacific Coast League
Ballpark: PGE Park
1971 – 1973
Evansville Triplets, American Association
Ballpark: Bosse Field
1974 – 1975
Sacramento Solons, Pacific Coast League
Ballpark: Hughes Stadium
1976 – 1978
Spokane Indians, Pacific Coast League
Ballpark: Avista Stadium
1979 – 1986
Vancouver Canadians, Pacific Coast League
Ballpark: Nat Bailey Stadium
Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
1987 – 1992
Denver Zephyrs, American Association
Ballpark: Mile High Stadium
1993 – 1996
New Orleans Zephyrs, American Association
Ballpark: Privateer Park
New Orleans, Louisiana
Tucson Toros, Pacific Coast League
Ballpark: Hi Corbett Field
1998 – 1999
Louisville Redbirds (98)/RiverBats (99), International League
Ballpark: Cardinal Stadium
2000 – 2004
Indianapolis Indians, International League
Ballpark: Victory Field
2005 – Present
Nashville Sounds, Pacific Coast League
Ballpark: Herschel Greer Stadium