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Monday, July 06, 2020

Former Red Sox executive Dave Dombrowski joins Nashville MLB initiative

A group devoted to bringing Major League Baseball to Nashville has enlisted one of the league’s most prominent executives to help its effort.

Music City Baseball LLC has added Dave Dombrowski, who built the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins into World Series winners, as a consultant and adviser.

Dombrowski has played a key role in leading clubs that have won more than 2,000 games with nine playoff appearances, four pennants and a pair of World Series championships. Dombrowski, who will turn 64 this month, most recently served as president of baseball operations for the Red Sox….

Dombrowski will be joining a Music City Baseball leadership team that includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, MLB All-Star and former general manager Dave Stewart, longtime St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 06, 2020 at 05:25 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dave dombrowski, expansion, nashville

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   1. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: July 07, 2020 at 12:42 PM (#5961482)
Alberto Gonzales, eh? That's a name I haven't heard in a while.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 07, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5961550)

Alberto Gonzales, eh? That's a name I haven't heard in a while.


He was part of the Randy Johnson trade to New York!
   3. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 07, 2020 at 04:55 PM (#5961566)
Is now really the time to try to invest in baseball or really any business predicated on public gatherings?
   4. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 07, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5961573)
Is now really the time to try to invest in baseball or really any business predicated on public gatherings?
I suspect that we're much closer to expansion now than we were six months ago, because the owners are probably very much in the mood for some nice fat expansion fees. For that reason I think this is the perfect time for the Nashville group to get serious.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: July 07, 2020 at 05:46 PM (#5961581)
So I guess Montreal would be the partner in expansion. Baseball has never expanded in odd numbers, for obvious reasons.
   6. caspian88 Posted: July 07, 2020 at 06:04 PM (#5961588)
MLB teams make their money primarily through four sources, right? Gate attendance and local broadcast revenues make up half to two-thirds, while the rest is national broadcast revenue, the team's share of MLBAM and MLB licensing, merchandise, sponsorships, and concessions?

Gate attendance, premium seating, merchandise, and concessions are largely going to be a function of local residents and the strength of the local economy. For that, I feel like you can probably use the U.S. Combined Statistical Areas as a good proxy of viable market size. The largest CSAs without an MLB team and that aren't within roughly a two hour drive of one are:

(Orlando)
Portland-Vancouver-Salem, WA/OR - 3.26 million (+11.6%)
Charlotte-Concord, NC/SC - 2.80 million (+16.4%)
Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT - 2.64 million (+16.3%)
(Sacramento)
San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, TX - 2.57 million (+19.1%)
(Columbus)
(Indianapolis)
Las Vegas-Henderson, NV - 2.3 million (+15.9%)
Raleigh-Durham-Cary, NC - 2.08 million (+19.5%)
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro, TN - 2.06 million (+16.9%)
Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC - 1.86 million (+3.2%)
Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point, NC - 1.69 million (+6.3%)

Now, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro are all within three hours of each other, so they could be consolidated into one group for these purposes. To be fair, Nashville is three hours away from Memphis, Louisville, Knoxville, Hunstville, and Chattanooga, so both Nashville and Charlotte have roughly 8-10 million people living within a three hour drive, and a near core of at least two million.

The Charlotte TV market is larger, though, by about 20%. I don't know how this works for nearby markets (like Memphis, say).

I continue to say North Carolina is a better expansion target than Tennessee, but it's not far off. Of course, the most important consideration is what city is more likely to get suckered into forking over the millions necessary to get a team to build a park there.
   7. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 07, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5961591)
4 - Yeah the league receiving the expansion fees should definitely be fired up. I wouldn’ wan to be the one paying the expansion fees in hopes of recouping them. This is especially true in a sport that looks all but certain to have major labor problems over the next 24 months.
   8. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 07, 2020 at 06:22 PM (#5961592)
Now, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro are all within three hours of each other, so they could be consolidated into one group for these purposes.
Charlotte and Raleigh really aren't close enough to be considered for gate attendance at games in the opposite city. The Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point) could maybe draw a little from both Charlotte and the Triangle, but is a much worse market in every other respect. Nashville is also much, much more centralized than the two non-Charlotte CSAs in NC. Finally I can walk to games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and if they stick a team in Raleigh and kill the Bulls I'm going to have to start strangling people.
   9. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 08, 2020 at 09:53 AM (#5961650)
Charlotte and Raleigh really aren't close enough to be considered for gate attendance at games in the opposite city. The Triad (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point) could maybe draw a little from both Charlotte and the Triangle, but is a much worse market in every other respect.


North Carolina - and maybe Tennessee with Nashville and Memphis - feels like some place where MLB's wacky Tampa-Montreal shared team idea could work. Call the team the North Carolina Barbecues or something and have them play 25-30 games each in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro or something like that. There would still be (at least) two obvious issues - no city's going to be willing to pay for a stadium that's only used that infrequently and how do you decide who gets to host playoff games - but I think it would have a better chance of working than trying to have Tampa and Montreal as a shared market.
   10. villageidiom Posted: July 08, 2020 at 10:20 AM (#5961653)
The largest CSAs without an MLB team and that aren't within roughly a two hour drive of one are:
...not in the United States. Montreal has a metro population over 4 million. Mexico City, over 20 million.

Nashville metro is on par with Havana, FWIW. Not that we'll see MLB expand to Havana any time soon. Within the USA, San Juan metro is a little larger than Nashville metro but that's not happening before many of the cities you mention.
I think it would have a better chance of working than trying to have Tampa and Montreal as a shared market.
I think there's a better chance that MLB moves the Rays to Montreal, expands to 32 teams - including a new team in Tampa with a new stadium - and uses the expansion fees to pay off the Trop lease. I also think that won't happen, but I think it's more likely than the shared market solution.
   11. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 08, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5961655)
North Carolina - and maybe Tennessee with Nashville and Memphis - feels like some place where MLB's wacky Tampa-Montreal shared team idea could work. Call the team the North Carolina Barbecues or something and have them play 25-30 games each in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro or something like that. There would still be (at least) two obvious issues - no city's going to be willing to pay for a stadium that's only used that infrequently and how do you decide who gets to host playoff games - but I think it would have a better chance of working than trying to have Tampa and Montreal as a shared market.


I think this could really work. 81 home games is a lot, and you need a very large market to support attendance when the team isn't in contention. I suggest making one city (probably Charlotte) the clear home - say they host 60% of the home games and all of the playoff games. Then play the other games around the state, assuming there are suitable stadiums.

You may lose out on some gate receipts by not having all the games in the large market, but you would get it back with increased cable viewership through a stronger regional identity. My folks have lived in NC for about 20 years (Greenville mostly; they just moved to Wake Forest) and in visiting over the years I have seen very little interest in the Panthers and especially the Bobcats/Hornets outside of Charlotte. They are certainly not viewed as "state" teams, like the Packers for instance.
   12. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: July 08, 2020 at 10:56 AM (#5961665)
Call the team the North Carolina Barbecues or something and have them play 25-30 games each in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro or something like that.


That's basically what the ABA's Carolina Cougars (previously the Houston Mavericks, subsequently the Spirits of St. -Louis) did. They might've been the first regional team in U.S. pro sports.
   13. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 08, 2020 at 11:20 AM (#5961670)
Maybe fans in the south will be more amenable to not all the home games being at the home stadium, because of the way college football works with all the neutral site games and games hosted at the local NFL stadium. Which are proliferating, with the NFL stadiums turning it into a lucrative annual "classic" that isn't even regional, where one year Houston hosts Auburn and Oregon and the next year it hosts Florida State and USC or whatever.

That's basically what the ABA's Carolina Cougars (previously the Houston Mavericks, subsequently the Spirits of St. -Louis) did. They might've been the first regional team in U.S. pro sports.

And the Virginia Squires of the ABA and the Kansas City-Omaha Kings of the NBA, starting a couple years later.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: July 08, 2020 at 11:36 AM (#5961672)
The Packers played two to four games each season in Milwaukee from 1953-1994, but they weren't marketed as a regional team the way those basketball clubs were.

   15. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: July 08, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5961675)
I don't know who was the first regional team, but the ABA had several - the Squires in Virginia, the Floridians, I believe multiple Texas teams, including the Chapparals...

No non-desperate player would want to play for a regional team.

---

When talking about market size, we can't forget to incorporate how leveraged those cities already are. For instance, Nashville already having the NFL and NHL would make me nervous as a baseball investor. But, the media market would include all of Tennessee (with some losses from traditional attachments to Atlanta and St. Louis). Ad nauseum.
San Antonio market benefits from its proximity to Austin.

The best new markets are, imo, outside the US. Not sure that this is the best time for international expansion though, from a logistics perspective.

The thing about baseball, relative to other sports, is that it might be the one that is "most local", the highest percentage of team revenues coming from the market it's in - especially in comparison to the scale of monies involved. (NHL and NBA can survive in smaller ecosystems, than MLB - which is why I think the a Tidewater NBA team is an interesting idea but not so much baseball (esp. with their terrible infrastructure).
   16. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: July 08, 2020 at 11:51 AM (#5961676)
Driving around Nashville is pretty bad.
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 08, 2020 at 01:42 PM (#5961718)
North Carolina - and maybe Tennessee with Nashville and Memphis - feels like some place where MLB's wacky Tampa-Montreal shared team idea could work. Call the team the North Carolina Barbecues or something and have them play 25-30 games each in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro or something like that.
Multiple quality stadiums seems like an insurmountable hurdle, the players would dislike the hassle of multiple home venues, and fans would have to travel more. Don’t see it happening, and if it somehow did, it might not be viable after the novelty wore off.
   18. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 08, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5961724)
(NHL and NBA can survive in smaller ecosystems, than MLB - which is why I think the a Tidewater NBA team is an interesting idea but not so much baseball (esp. with their terrible infrastructure).

Yeah, if the Rays are considered to have never had a chance to draw a fan base because people in Tampa have to drive across a bridge to get to St. Pete, good luck figuring out where to put the MLB field in Hampton/Norfolk/Virginia Beach/wherever.
   19. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 08, 2020 at 02:13 PM (#5961734)
Multiple quality stadiums seems like an insurmountable hurdle, the players would dislike the hassle of multiple home venues, and fans would have to travel more.


Season tickets would be virtually impossible.
   20. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 09, 2020 at 08:35 AM (#5961859)
The belt from Raleigh to Charlotte is loaded with minor league teams -- the Charlotte Knights, Kannapolis Intimidators, Winston-Salem Dash, High Point Rockers, Greensboro Grasshoppers, Burlington Royals, Durham Bulls, and Carolina Mudcats. A Charlotte/Raleigh/Greensboro MLB team would likely kill the Knights, Grasshoppers, and Mudcats, and would threaten all of the other teams. Well, maybe the Bulls would ultimately end up the club's AAA team, which would be nice.

That's something I hadn't thought about with MLB expansion -- AAA expansion. And if they stick a team in Nashville or Charlotte or some other AAA city then they'll need three or four new AAA cities.
   21. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 09, 2020 at 09:46 AM (#5961867)
Let's see, the High Point Rockers are an independent league team - they tend to thrive in the shadows of major league teams as the much cheaper alternative, so I don't see them having a WORSE chance in a world with MLB in NC.

The Burlington Royals are already doomed because they're in the Appalachian League.

I can't imagine a world without the Durham Bulls so I assume they would still be an AAA team. It would be tough for the current Greensboro and Charlotte minor league teams. Maybe they would join an independent league too. One thing about the proposed deletion of many affiliated minor league teams is there could be a resurgence of independent minor leagues. These cities still have stadiums and lots of people used to going to the games. Greensboro has a 7,500 seat capacity which is quite large for their current existence in the South Atlantic League.

Finally the Carolina Mudcats are in kind of a weird location, a full 20 miles east of Raleigh and much farther away from the rest of the Research Triangle. So they already have a niche drawing from the other counties east of Wake County.

Season tickets would be virtually impossible.

Do people (not corporations) still buy season tickets for all 81 games? Teams sell all kinds of partial season packages, 6 games, 12 games, 20 games, etc. That would be just as easy.
   22. JJ1986 Posted: July 09, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5961869)
Are the Mudcats the team in Zebulon?
   23. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 09, 2020 at 10:14 AM (#5961870)
Are the Mudcats the team in Zebulon?
Yes. There was a AA incarnation of the team (now the Pensacola Blue Wahoos) that tried to market itself as the Raleigh team. Didn't work.
   24. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 09, 2020 at 10:16 AM (#5961872)
Greensboro has a 7,500 seat capacity which is quite large for their current existence in the South Atlantic League.
If Charlotte got a team I'd assume that they'd stick the AA team in Greensboro and then fight tooth and nail to take the Bulls away from Tampa.
   25. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 09, 2020 at 10:22 AM (#5961874)
One note on MLB in NC is that Raleigh has reasonably advanced plans to build a soccer stadium in the south part of the city, for the NWSL and the men's USL teams currently in Cary (with the idea of trying for an MLS expansion team). It's not definite, and who knows what COVID does to these plans. Anyway, it's hard to imagine Raleigh ponying up for a soccer stadium and a baseball stadium. Soccer stadiums these days are built small, so it's unlikely a barnstorming NC team could play in it. Maybe they could play 4 series a year at NC State's football stadium or something. That would be awful for fans and TV, but at least it's maybe big enough, though no idea on the field dimensions.

Raleigh does seem ripe for the taking for by the first professional team to get a foothold in the city proper. The city is more MLS scale than MLB scale, so I think the soccer plans would make more sense.
   26. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 09, 2020 at 10:43 AM (#5961877)
Aren't the Carolina Hurricanes in the city proper?
   27. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 09, 2020 at 12:23 PM (#5961886)
They're inside the city limits but outside of the Beltline, on a big plot with NC State's football stadium and the state fair complex, surrounded by parking lots and near where the highway out of town merges with the I-40 bypass. The soccer stadium would in theory be in the warehouse district south of downtown, just off of the interstate but on the city side of it, in an area that will be dense (by NC standards) commercial/residential development.

Raleigh has, or at least had pre-COVID, about 900 times the street life it had when the Canes moved there 20 years ago. The Hurricanes are in a place you can drive to, while the soccer stadium would be a place you can walk to from a bar or a restaurant, or that you could bike to from the train station or central bus terminal downtown.

Of course in the post-COVID landscape it's anyone's guess what if anything gets built. MLS has many aspects of a Ponzi scheme to it, and its owners might be even more interested in new expansion fees than MLB owners are. But it's hard to imagine cities ponying up much to build a stadium in this climate.
   28. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: July 09, 2020 at 09:28 PM (#5962010)
On covid: all this is contingent on a near future state that is like how things once were. If vaccines last for shorter durations / have relatively low success rates (I’m hearing expect north of flu but well south of, say, MMR), and/or significant non-death long run impacts (lung, brain, etc... damage) — then we may need to reassess how robust the appetite for in-person spectator sports will be and how that might look.
But that goes without saying, I guess.

Should be no shortage of qualified minor league cities wanting to keep teams, though how willing they’d be to spend cash to hit AAA standards is up in the air.

27/FM: If only light rail hadn’t been killed!

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