Friday, August 13, 2021

Nashville Gets It Right!

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

There has been a lot of talk about Nashville, TN., being a potential landing spot for an MLB franchise and as it should since the area is one of the fastest growing in the country.

This is a sore subject for those that work with the Nashville Sounds, AAA Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers because they don’t know whether they’d be a part of the team.

But those folks shouldn’t worry about anything because in my opinion the most likely spots to be a part of MLB would be Montreal or Las Vegas and perhaps Charlotte.

There is one major obstacle for any of this to happen.

None of these cities have an MLB Stadium in place and when they do build one, it will get expensive when you factor the costs to build it. If you come in as an expansion team, you can rest assure those fees will be astronomical to join the fraternity.

During these times, does any Metro Area have about $750 Million-$1.5 Billion to build a stadium and develop the area around it with residential and business development?

At the moment, I’m not holding my breath now or anytime in the foreseeable future. If Las Vegas gets a team, it will be the Oakland A’s relocating to the area.

My purpose for being in Nashville, TN., was I attended an event called Podcast Movement so I can learn about an entirely new industry. It ran from August 3-6. It was held at the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.

You talk about timing. This was perfect as I had an opportunity to fulfill a long-standing desire and see a Nashville Sounds Game.

For years, the team played at the now demolished Herschel Greer Stadium from 1978-2014. It was located on the grounds of Fort Negley.

During their minor league history, the Sounds have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers. All of this has occurred at the AA and AAA levels.

They have three league, two conference and 10 division titles which meant they produced a lot of great MLB talent. Too many names to mention.

The Sounds are currently affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers. These two organizations worked together from 2005-2014 and reunited in 2021.

They currently play at a beautiful State of the Art Facility, First Horizon Park. It has a fixed seating capacity of 8,500 people and can hold up to 10,000 with additional group areas and berm seating.

The ballpark’s attendance record was set on March 24, 2019, when 11,824 people watched the Sounds play against the Texas Rangers in a Spring Training exhibition game.

On Saturday, August 7, 2021, the Sounds faced the Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers) and Candy Ebling and I covered the contest, an 11-1 Nashville win that was culminated by two homers by Travis Shaw, who is on a rehabilitation assignment from the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Toledo’s only run came off the bat by Kody Clemens, the son of legendary, Roger Clemens. Kody Clemens hit a home run in the first inning.

Before the game, I had the opportunity to speak with Chad Seely, the Director of Communications for the club. Chad and I are actually connected on LinkedIn.

Seely and his assistant Peter Brooks treated us fantastic. I hope both of these young men have fantastic careers in whatever endeavors they pursue!

There are a lot of teams where the Director of Communications/Media Relations double as the team’s broadcaster. 

Not Seely as his focus is strictly on working on press releases to keep fans and media updated on all aspects of the operation including roster moves.

During the week, Chad e-mailed me about what we wanted to accomplish on our visit and my objective was to do a video with him to promote the organization, write a story, plus whatever else falls our way. He confirmed our attendance via text message the day of the event and when we got in the stadium, we got to know him on our way to the Press Box.

Initially, we were hoping to do a video of about 30 minutes but because of game day, he could do a maximum of five. Our video went so well, that it actually went 10 minutes and he was totally classy with that.

Seely is a native of Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, which is a sports powerhouse at the NCAA Division III level. Ironically, Ebling graduated from Whitewater and we found out that their local high schools were rivals. I made sure that we got a Kodak moment with Ebling and Seely.

You talk about a small world. This is it!

To keep the video concise, our primary focus was on the connection between the Milwaukee Brewers and Nashville Sounds. There was plenty to talk about and what’s great is you have a hometown professional working with the top affiliate of his MLB Club.

Furthermore, The Milwaukee Admirals are affiliated with the NHL’s Nashville Predators. 

The Admirals could be considered the AAA team of the Predators.

So now all of a sudden we have a “Milwaukee South” connection and when I asked Chad how long it took to drive home, he quipped, it depends on how fast you drive. The drive is about 10 hours.

Boy, can I relate to that.

But when you put things in its entire perspective, when I talk about a city that gets it right, I mean just that.

First Horizon Park is located on the outskirts of downtown, Nashville.

When you go to the ballpark, you can see the beautiful skyline in the backdrop.

Around the stadium, there is a lot of residential condominiums and apartments with restaurants plus offices nearby.

The cost to build the facility was $91 Million and it was built on the site of the former Sulfur Dell, a minor league ballpark that was in use from 1885-1963. 

There is also a Mini Golf Course inside the ballpark.

The design of the park incorporates elements of Nashville’s baseball and musical heritage. It’s most distinctive feature is the guitar-shaped scoreboard, a successor to the original guitar scoreboard at Greer Stadium.

But if you want to get a feel for this story, the photos in this article along with the video that we encourage you to watch, will give you a feel of how unbelievable of a place this truly is and something you should check out when you’re in the area. 

If you’re a baseball person, put this on your bucket list! 

You won’t regret it!

This is not a stadium that’s located in a sports complex where you come to the ballpark and leave after the game. 

It’s much more than that. It’s an experience!

I admitted to Chad that I always wanted to attend a Sounds game and glad that I waited for when I was conveniently in town in an unbelievable environment.

Furthermore, with so much to do in Nashville such as other tourist attractions and family, this was the first actual sporting event that I’ve attended in Tennessee although there will be more planned in the future. 

Hopefully, another trip to see the Sounds. The experience and hospitality was outstanding!

When the game was over, I got wound up. 

As a result, Ebling and I decided to drive through downtown Nashville and to no surprise on a Saturday Night, the area was packed! 

The traffic was bumper to bumper but the people watching was priceless! 

I wasn’t worried about the 17 hour drive that awaited us at 7 am local time to depart home to South Florida.

To sum things up, as I mentioned in the title, now you know what it means that “Nashville Gets It Right” especially when talking about the way that they have an excellent thing going with the Sounds!

Thanks to Chad Seely and Podcast Movement 2021 for allowing me to accomplish two great objectives on one trip. 

And on this day, it was great to spend an evening with two UW-Whitewater Warhawks alumnus and experiencing Nashville Sounds Baseball!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

You can listen to his broadcasts through www.southflorididatribune.com and subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel for free.

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