Ten-time Grammy award winner Justin Timberlake cast his lot Wednesday with Music City Baseball, the group gaining momentum in its effort to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to Nashville.
The team’s name will be the Nashville Stars and it’s difficult to imagine a bigger star than Timberlake joining the mix.
The multi-faceted entertainer is a Memphis native and avid sports fan who became a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012.
“I am thrilled to be involved in the movement to bring Major League Baseball to the great state of Tennessee,” Timberlake said in a statement. “I believe in Music City Baseball’s vision of linking baseball and music in a unique way to unite and entertain people and I am excited to help generate awareness throughout the community as we share our vision for bringing MLB to Music City.”via The Tennessean
Whenever someone asks me if I think Nashville will ever get a Major League Baseball team, I always say the same thing: “For the last time, I don’t know, mom!”
But if anyone else were to ask me, I’d say, “Yes, but no time soon.”
Nashville is growing like a damn weed, for sure. But so much more goes into getting a team than population, the amount of pedal taverns per capita, and a group of big name people on a made-up board trying to get a sport (who already said they’re not expanding until they figure out important stadium issues with their current teams – hi, Oakland and Tampa!) to come to their city.
With that said, Justin Timberlake definitely helps.
He helps for a lot of reasons, but mainly because the wives of every big decision maker in baseball probably LOVE Justin Timberlake. All of them probably jam out to him in their luxury SUVs and many have probably seen him in concert. Elderly married women LOVE J.T. and his cute little butt.
Those ladies will probably read this headline in their US Weekly’s and tell their husbands, “Hey, did you see Justin Timberlake and his cute little butt are joining a group trying to bring baseball to Nashville?” Then they’ll probably add something like, “Looks like he’s bringing swinging bats! You other boys don’t know how to hack! Get it?! I came up with that myself!”
This is a good move for the cause. It’s a move that turns heads and raises awareness of what Nashville is trying to do, and as a new destination city in America, I think that would be enticing for MLB. Especially since the committee already carries big baseball names like Dave Stewart, Dave Dombrowski, and Tony La Russa. Plus, the group has already stated they will name the team The Nashville Stars to honor Nashville’s Negro Leagues team – which is pretty dope. Hopefully, J.T.’s first major contribution to this group is advising them to “drop the ‘the,’ it’s cleaner.” Just “Stars.”
Now, we should note that there are other cities waiting in line ahead of Nashville for a potential expansion and/or relocated team. Portland (great city, and would be a great baseball town), Montreal (you don’t know what you’ve lost till it’s gone, and now they know – Montreal would be better this time around. Plus, J.T. says it himself: what goes around, comes around), Las Vegas (sports leagues are suddenly realizing you can make money in Vegas – weird concept, right?! Who woulda’ thunk?) and then after those cities, it’s probably Nashville.
Can Nashville jump the line? Of course. It’s actually more of a chain restaurant waiting area than a line at Chipotle or something. You’re waiting to be called.
But let’s be real for a bit. Nashville won’t be able to out-sell the other cities by claiming to have passionate fans. Don’t get me wrong, Nashville has passionate fans. Go to one Predators game and try to tell me otherwise. And good luck trying to clown the Titans online – you’ll get Geoff Schwartz’d. The passion is definitely there. They bring that SEC college football passion to their pro teams. But that’s not Nashville’s strongest suit (and tie – shout out J.T.). Nashville needs to play into the entertainment side of things. Sell yourselves as being the Dodgers east of the Mississippi. Celebrities sitting behind home plate, concerts in the stadium, the ability to clash the music industry with sports better than any other franchise can. There’s no use trying to claim passionate fans as a selling point. Any city can do that. Give MLB what no one else can – and they appear to be doing that by flexing their Timberlake muscle.
Mainly because at the bottom of every decision, are dollar signs. And that’s really the main point in play here.
Can Nashville support an 81-game season through the heat of the summer? I mean, damn, it’s hard enough being outside for 4 straight days at CMA Fest in June. But to me – again, that doesn’t matter. With the influx of tourism the city has annually, it just gives people from out of town something else to do. The tickets will sell.
But back to my main answer to the question: “Yes, but no time soon.” Here’s a little more insight as to why:
Many hurdles remain. As Nashville Sounds owner Frank Ward pointed out in an interview with the Tennessean in July, the team’s plans so far lack crucial details, such as a majority owner and financing, and then there are issues like negotiating for territorial rights and building a stadium. Nashville, where residents are facing a 34% property tax hike and businesses are losing an estimated $100 million per week in visitor spending, would need to help pay for that stadium.
Those aren’t little items on your honey-do list to scoff at. Those are Jackie Joyner-Kersee sized hurdles. (Is she still a relevant reference?) So let’s not get out ahead of our skiis here. Nashville has to bounce back from 2020 before they can worry about baseball and Justin Timberlake’s cute little butt.
P.S. – If Justin Timberlake does make this happen, I vote changing the name of the Cumberland River to the Crymea.
P.P.S. – Really hoping this Timberlake baseball project goes better than ‘Trouble With The Curve.’
Any chance Justin Timberlake can pull his weight and get BNA to change back their carpet?