What Sport Will Expand To Nashville Next?


It remains to be seen what will happen with Nashville’s bid for an expansion team in Major League Soccer (MLS).  Nashville Mayor Megan Barry joined the group in New York City in their meeting with MLS to pitch Nashville to them.

While we wait for the fate of Nashville’s attempt to bring professional soccer to the Music City, I was wondering about other leagues that might consider adding Nashville.

Major League Baseball (MLB) – Probably not much of a chance of Major League Baseball relocating or expanding to Nashville.  We have the Atlanta Braves to the south of us and the Cincinnati Reds to the north.  Expansion to 32 teams is coming but Nashville is behind other hopefuls such as Mexico City, Montreal, Vancouver, Charlotte (NC), Portland (OR),  Austin (TX), Las Vegas (NV) and Columbus (OH).  Both Tampa Bay and Oakland are having battles with their stadiums so those teams could relocate as well.  Nashville has First Tennessee Park but it would need a major expansion for a major league team.

National Basketball Association (NBA) – The NBA hasn’t said when they would expand or how many teams they would add but you can be assured that Seattle (WA) will be one of them.  I’m not really sure that Nashville is an NBA city.  Bridgestone Arena is a top-notch arena that could support an NBA team but arena dates would be difficult.  Memphis has an NBA team but that’s Memphis.  I don’t know anyone that drives to Memphis on a regular basis to watch the Grizzlies.  The NBA’s short-list of cities includes Seattle (WA), Pittsburgh (PA), Omaha (NE), Las Vegas (NV), Vancouver, Louisville (KY), Mexico City, Kansas City (MO), St. Louis (MO) and a second team for Chicago.   I could see the NBA going to Louisville before coming to Nashville.  Kentucky is a hotbed for college basketball and seems like a good fit.

Arena Football League (AFL) – Even with the league down to only five teams this season, the league is still alive.  Nashville had a team called the “Nashville Kats” through a ten-year span from 1997-2007.  The team was pretty successful on the field and at the gate.  They played in two ArenaBowls and had an average attendance of 9,000 per game.    The league is going to expand, probably by three more teams in 2018 but the league has not made public the cities with interest that could join their current roster of Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.  A new Nashville team would be a hit and a resurrection of the Kats would be good for the league.  The only thing that is a little iffy is whether or not the Arena Football League will rebound from its current state of life support.

National Lacrosse League (NLL) – Indoor lacrosse is a lot like hockey but is played without ice or skates.  The traditional outdoor game of lacrosse is scaled down to a hockey rink.  The games are very physical and high scoring.  The NLL currently has nine teams.  The closest team to Nashville is the Georgia Swarm.  Nashville would be a natural rivalry if the league placed a team here.  I think Nashville fans would love the NLL but it would be competition with the Nashville Predators.   If the lacrosse team couldn’t play in Bridgestone Arena, they could play at Municipal Auditorium.   The league is targeting owners who already have NBA or NHL franchises so Nashville could be in the mix.

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) – Outdoor lacrosse has become increasingly popular over the years and the MLL’s most recent expansion added the Atlanta Blaze to make it a 9-team league.  Most of the teams play in college stadiums so that’s a positive for Nashville.  The league plays at 14-game schedule during the spring and summer months.   The sport is on the rise in Nashville as youth leagues continue to spring up.  If Major League Soccer doesn’t come to Nashville, the MLL might want to take a chance on bringing a team to Nashville.

Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) – Indoor soccer has never been a “major” sport but the professional league still exists in the form of the Major Arena Soccer League with 17 teams across North America.  I’m not sure Nashville would support indoor soccer as much as they would an outdoor team.  With little exposure, and likely none by the local market, a team would probably not be able to play in Bridgestone Arena but might play at the Municipal Auditorium.

Other Sports Leagues – I think it’s just a matter of time until another indoor football league claims territory in Nashville.  The established Indoor Football League (IFL) snagged the Arizona Rattlers from the Arena Football League but have no teams east of Nebraska.   The Arena Pro Football (APF) league evolved from other leagues including the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) which had a franchise in Nashville (2014-2015) before the league folded.  Although the Nashville franchise won the league title in 2014, most Nashvillans didn’t have a clue……The NBA’s Developmental League might be a good option for Nashville.  Perhaps working with the Memphis Grizzlies although the Grizzlies have already decided to own and operate an expansion franchise in the D-League and plan to locate the team in Southaven, Mississippi in the Landers Center which will be closer to Memphis…..As for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), there is probably no chance since Nashville does not have an NBA team and the league is trying to remain stable with the teams they already have…..The American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) has a professional Frisbee league in operation as well and the Nashville Nightwatch will be playing in their third season this spring.  The team needs some serious exposure because it’s a great sport to watch.

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