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A Hot New Bombshell Enters the MLB: Nashville Front-runs a New Franchise

Nashville’s vibrant skyline. / Courtesy of Getty Images

Bachelorette parties have their sights on Nashville for its boisterous charm and lively downtown setting—now, Major League Baseball is set on Music City. 

Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, intends to expand the league from 30 clubs to 32 before his term expires in January 2029. With many contending cities such as Charlotte, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Montreal, Nashville takes a promising lead. Granted, the commissioner pointed out that no expansion can be made before Oakland and Tampa sort their organizational issues. “There’s a demand for baseball,” Manfred said in October 2022. “There are cities that want baseball, and we should try to meet that demand.” 

When asked about Nashville in this month’s Associated Press Sports Editor meeting, Manfred told reporters, "It's just not fair for me to focus on one individual city.  I think we're going to have multiple strong candidates in both categories, including Nashville." However,Manfred emphasizes that a new team won’t enter the MLB before his term ends in 2029—the earliest.

So, with two new franchises on the horizon, why Nashville?

In 2019, Music City Baseball LLC formed to advocate for a Major League franchise in Nashville. Since its founding, the organization has accrued support from both baseball and music stars. While the specific location for the stadium remains unconfirmed, the group has proposed a stadium that could house the new franchise as well as host music events. All-Star Dave Stewart from the Oakland A’s has spearheaded the operation, making himself the face of the future franchise. Among the advocates for the music venue are prominent  stars such as Kane Brown, Luke Combs, and Maren Morris. As of January 2024, the organization added Don Mattingly, Yankee legend and former manager of both the LA Dodgers and the Miami Marlins, to their roster.

Don Mattingly hitting a solo shot at Yankee Stadium. / Courtesy of Mike Albans, Associated Press 

Music City Baseball has yet to field a potential team, but the organization took on the brand the “Nashville Stars” to commemorate a historic Negro League team based in Nashville—one Stewart calls the “pioneers” of the Negro Leagues. In respect to the Stars’s history, Stewart commits the organization to becoming the first majority minority-owned franchise in Major League history. In 2020, Stewart told USA Today Sports, “[The MLB] should open the doors to Black ownership, diverse ownership. This is the time for baseball to do something they’ve never done.”

The Nashville Stars in uniform c. 1951. / Courtesy of Music City Baseball LLC

Though Stewart expressed his hopes for the team to play Opening Day of 2026, the Nashville Stars await the hand of the MLB. In the meantime, polls favor the Stars as a leading candidate for an expansion franchise. In the 2023 MLB Player Poll, over 100 major leaguers were asked to vote for their favorite city to take on a new franchise. By amassing 69 percent, Nashville took the lead. 

Manfred has high hopes to find promising cities that want baseball, and the Stars make a compelling case. In conversation with The Tennessean, Stewart said, “Nashville is an up and coming city with the potential and the promise to have a major league team here and support it.” Considering Music City Baseball’s efforts and widespread support for the new franchise, that “promise” is favorable for the Stars.

And who knows—maybe you’ll meet a major leaguer at your next girls trip to Nashville!


Edited by Hadlea Lindstrom

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