Group led by Dave Stewart prepares bid for potential MLB expansion team in Nashville
Former All-Star pitcher and three-time World Series champion Dave Stewart leads a group seeking an MLB franchise in Nashville, Tennessee, which would be the first majority minority-owned team in major league history.
Music City Baseball has named Stewart to lead its diverse ownership initiative designed to land a big league team for baseball’s next expansion cycle, likely within the next three to five years, according to Stewart and company sources. MLB.
Expansion is a priority for baseball, which hasn’t added teams in nearly a quarter century when Arizona and Tampa Bay joined in 1998. Before MLB could expand, however, commissioner Rob Manfred said he must first resolve stadium issues in Oakland. and Tampa Bay. Neither city has any long-term stadium commitments in their respective cities. Tampa Bay previously pursued a joint Montreal-Tampa Bay solution that was rejected by Manfred, while A’s owner John Fisher made a public offer to try to move to Las Vegas while pursuing a new ballpark in Oakland.
“I spoke to the commissioner a few weeks ago and the same thing remains,” Stewart, who played eight seasons at Oakland and helped the team win a World Series in 1989, told ESPN on Tuesday. “There are two teams that don’t have homes: the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Rays, so it’s his priorities to make sure those places have homes to play in. But once they do are doing, expansion becomes next on the agenda.”
A majority minority-owned baseball team would not only be a historic first, but also the culmination of a quest for Stewart, who has pursued ownership in the past with the Miami Marlins and A’s. Several former high-profile black players have pursued ownership of the sport in recent decades, including the late Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Joe Morgan as well as Reggie Jackson. NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson owns a 2% stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers, and before dropping his interest in the Marlins, Derek Jeter reportedly held a 4% stake in the team.
Stewart said his group, which includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, expects to raise $2 billion to buy an expansion team.
The proposed name for the franchise is the Nashville Stars, replicating the Negro Leagues team that called the city home in the 1940s and 1950s. Nashville became increasingly attractive for baseball thanks to the success of the Tennessee Titans of the NFL and the Nashville Predators of the NHL.
The plan also includes a mixed-use development, market-priced housing, and a relationship with legendary Black College Tennessee State University. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, located in Kansas City, is also a partner of Stewart’s group on the project.
“We started this process four years ago. Nashville is a fast-growing city. It has a great population,” Stewart said. “There’s so much going on here. So MLB put Nashville as one of their best places for expansion, and I think that sparked the idea of going that route.”