Brewers to review Sounds stadium talks before renewing affiliation

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 3:17pm

Before its contract with the Nashville Sounds expires this month, Milwaukee Brewers management hopes to see progress on new stadium talks from the team’s triple-A minor league partner to the south.

The Brewers two-year player development contract with the Sounds comes to an end Sept. 30. Mayor Karl Dean’s administration last year commissioned a study on potential stadium sites that recommended three locations for a new Sounds ballpark. But since the release of that December 2011 report, talks with the mayor’s office on a new stadium haven’t gained momentum.

“We’re interested to hear how things are progressing down there in Nashville as far as the new stadium goes,” Scott Martens, the Brewers’ manager of player development and minor league operations, told The City Paper last week when asked whether the organization would renew its Sounds affiliation.

“I know they’ve talked about it for a number of years,” he said. “I know they did a survey this past fall or winter ... to determine some potential sites. But there really hasn’t been a whole lot of discussion that I’ve heard talked about since that survey was done. We’re waiting to get an update from the Sounds ownership as to where those talks may be or where they may not be.”

The Sounds season concluded Monday with a home game. According to Martens, Major League Baseball provides a two-week window following the end of the season for teams to declare intent to either extend or discontinue player development contracts with minor league affiliates. At that point, the Brewers could explore other markets.

“From a business perspective, the Brewers are very happy with the Sounds current ownership,” Martens said. “We’ve had a great working relationship with them. So, things are very positive from that aspect. It really boils down to the facility.

“It’s a great city — a baseball city — from our perspective,” he said. “They’ve got a great fan base. And I think they deserve better from a baseball standpoint.”

The Sounds, which a group of investors called MFP Baseball purchased three and a half years ago, has operated as the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate since 2005. Upon taking the reins of the Sounds, MFP has eyed a new downtown stadium to replace 35-year-old Greer Stadium, the oldest in the Pacific Coast League.

Sounds owners are hoping for assistance from Dean’s administration to land a private-public partnership for a new ballpark. But in terms of large-scale second-term projects, Dean’s office is currently concentrated on an expensive bus rapid transit project proposed along the Broadway-West End Corridor, extending to Five Points in East Nashville.

Given the scope of the massive BRT project, some observers question whether Dean’s administration would be in position to simultaneously lead the way for a new Sounds stadium over the next three years.

“Mayor Dean supports having minor league baseball in Nashville, but any sort of future investment must be led by the private sector and must make sense for the city,” Dean’s press secretary Bonna Johnson said. “The contract under discussion now is an arrangement entirely between the Brewers and the Sounds.”

According to Doug Scopel, Sounds assistant general manager, attendance at Greer Stadium during the 2012 season was 321,042. That figure (an average of 4,792 per game) marked a small decline from 2011 when 335,143 people attended Sounds games at Greer. The Sounds had a league-high five rainouts this past season.

Metro’s 2011 stadium site evaluation study, undertaken by Kansas-City based Populous Inc., suggested three potential locations for a new ballpark: the east bank of the Cumberland River, the north Gulch area and the former Sulpher Dell site north of the state capitol building. Sounds ownership favors the east bank for a new stadium to replace Greer.

“The Sounds position has always been very clear,” Sounds lobbyist Tom White said. “There needs to be a new ballpark, and it’s also clear that they need to have the [mayor’s] administration concur with them as to the best site. The Sounds are still hoping that will happen in the very near future.”

Asked how long the stadium issue could remain unresolved, White said, “As long as the Sounds and the Brewers have a good relationship, it could go on.”

Based on precedent, the Brewers position on a new Sounds stadium should not be interpreted as an ultimatum.

Leading up to the renewal of the Brewers-Sounds player development contract two years ago, Martens also made it clear the major league franchise hoped progress would be made on the Sounds stadium front. Stadium discussions were in a similar status then, but the Brewers renewed the contract nonetheless.

“I don’t think we’re in a position, the way the process works, to make demands,” Martens told The City Paper last week. “Would we like to be in a new facility? Absolutely.”  

20 Comments on this post:

By: hattrick3 on 9/4/12 at 2:29

Blah. blah, blah. The Brewers will sign the new contract with the stadium as is.

By: bfra on 9/4/12 at 2:55

Why build a new stadium for a 2nd rate team? I know Karl likes to put stars in his crown, but he has more stars now than the taxpayers can afford.

By: TITAN1 on 9/5/12 at 6:12

bfra, do you think Nashville would be better off without the Sounds?

By: Kosh III on 9/5/12 at 6:37

"Sounds lobbyist Tom White said. “There needs to be a new ballpark"

Then do it. With your own money. Pretend you are a job creating capitalist and go to the bank, get financing, buy the land and build it.

Instead it's the same old cry for a welfare check from the government to pay for their playground.
However, the capital improvement budget just passed in June INCLUDES a 55 million dollar outlay for a "minor league baseball" facility.
It's a done deal---they've not told us yet.

By: joe41 on 9/5/12 at 8:09

I have heard that the baseball park was included in the capital funds budget but I have not seen or heard anything about it. I figure if it was, then this would be big news.

By: NewYorker1 on 9/5/12 at 8:16

Hummmm.... I'm in the process of doing a $20K bathroom remodel on my master bathroom. Now I'm wondering if I should have contacted the mayor’s office for financial assistance on this remodel project.

By: bfra on 9/5/12 at 8:37

NewYorker1 - If you plan on having a golden throne in your bathroom, his highness Karl might be interested.

By: hattrick3 on 9/5/12 at 10:22

Titan1 - Nashville would be fine without the Sounds. Better, no.....would loosing the Sounds hurt Nashvile, heck no. I don't see tourists flocking to Nashville to see baseball, and a new stadium is pointless. You can go 4 hours south, north, and northwest to see professional baseball.

By: BigPapa on 9/5/12 at 1:09

If The Sounds and the racetrack were gone tomorrow morning about 100 people might care for about 10 minutes.

By: NewYorker1 on 9/5/12 at 3:37

Hey BigDaddy. How are you doing? I just love that name.

By: TITAN1 on 9/5/12 at 8:23

Exaggerate much, BP?

By: Ask01 on 9/6/12 at 4:28

Note to Milwaukee Brewers from Nashville tax payers:

If you require a new stadium, open up the purse strings and let the cash (yours) flow.

I'm sure Mayor Dean and our spendthrift Metro Council can recommend construction companies and contractors.

If this is not sufficient, Greyhound has departures all day and remember, the best time to travel the interstates is before and after the rush hour times.

All is not lost, however. If the die hard Sounds fans will pony up the required funds from their own, and not taxpayer pockets, a new stadium might be possible.

Just ask them.

By: BigPapa on 9/6/12 at 7:05

Again I go back to this simple idea:

If minor league baseball is such a sure thing SUCH a money maker, then why isn't there a line of investors outside The Sounds door just waiting to get in on such a deal?

By: TITAN1 on 9/6/12 at 1:38

Why does EVERYTHING have to be a money maker to you? Minor league baseball is good affordable entertainment. Just because YOU don't enjoy it, doesn't mean others don't. You won't even notice any difference in your income it if Nashville helps out with it. Here is your simple idea, if it doesn't benefit you, your against it. To heck with everyone else.

By: Ask01 on 9/6/12 at 5:14

Let's forget for a moment the concept of "money maker."

How about this: any facility for use to generate revenue, whether or not a profit is realized, sporting or otherwise needs to be built by commercial supporters or private individuals with no money from tax payers. Period.

Those who enjoy sports in any form should be willing to foot the bill to support their addiciton and not expect everyone else, meaning taxpayers who may never darken the door, to fund their fun times.

The concept seems fair enough and simple enough even a moron could understand.


By: BigPapa on 9/7/12 at 7:54

Why do you see a private business as a charity or social program? Seriously man, that is a PRIVATE company.. it's not a park open to every and all Nashville citizens.

You live in la la land where everything is "free" Here's a hint: it's not. Grow up and stop thinking like a child.

By: TITAN1 on 9/7/12 at 8:13

BP, try this on for size. Stop being a hypocrite by supporting the Titans. If you are going to whine about tax payers money helping to pay for professional sports venues, then boycott them. I happen to know you go to Titans games. I don't have a problem helping with the cost of sports venues because it is worthwhile entertainment to many. I have never been to a Preds game, but I follow them and I am glad that many do go to the games. If I had a problem with tax dollars going to these venues, then I sure would not whine about it and then walk through their door and hand them more money. Now, what were you saying about growing up?

By: BigPapa on 9/7/12 at 1:03

I never said I didnt have an issue with the titans leeching off of metro. I will say this, we voted on it so there was at least a chance for folks to voice their displeasure.

By: TITAN1 on 9/7/12 at 1:22

That is my point, you do have an issue with taxpayers money going for LP Field, yet you still support them by buying a ticket and going to the games. If it really bothered you, you would not pay a dime to support them. Truth is, you are picking and choosing what suits YOU regardless who is paying for the venue, but when someone else supports something you don't then in your eyes they are wrong. You can't have it both ways.

By: Ask01 on 9/8/12 at 5:35

I have never, and will never support any of the Nashville sports teams by attending a game, or purchasing any of their merchandise.

Others do voluntarily surrender their hard earned money to support overpaid athletes, and such is their right, as mine is to refuse to contribute to the livilihoods of players.

That is how the system should work. Private businesses should be supported by citizens, not the government in any manner.

In that vein, if the Sounds and Brewers would like a new stadium, their corporate management along with the fans, and ONLY the fans, should put their money down and pay whatever is required without looking to the city and other tax payers for support.