Friday, November 7, 2008

Nashville Sounds on October 31st, 2008

MFP Real Estate, LLC, an East Coast-based team of investors, is excited about the agreement it has reached to purchase the Nashville Sounds baseball team and looks forward to the opportunity to deliver a much improved baseball experience to fans. Next steps toward assuming control of the team include an extensive application and background check process and an approval perhaps as soon as December, during baseball’s annual winter meetings, MFP partner Frank Ward said. The group also must ask Metro Government to renew a lease of Greer Stadium to the team. “We are very excited,” Ward said of himself and partners Masahiro Honzawa and Steve Posner. “We will begin immediately reaching out to the community and letting folks know that we are serious about improving the Nashville baseball experience. I personally plan to have a house here and spend much of the year in Nashville. We will be very visible in Nashville and at the games and will be accountable to our fans,” Ward said. The trio of investors brings both business know-how and a love of sports to the Nashville sports landscape:

􀂄 Ward is a successful real estate manager and investor who has spent many years working for and with the Honzawa family on New York transactions. He is a baseball fan who has taken part in rotisserie baseball leagues for 25 years, and is an avid baseball card collector. He said he became interested in the Nashville community after frequent visits to see one of his four children, who is now a junior at Vanderbilt University.

􀂄 Honzawa, a native of Japan, has had extensive experience with New York real estate investments. His education includes an MBA from Columbia University.He sold his interest in the family-owned business and co-founded MFP with Posner and Ward early this year.

􀂄 Posner is a certified public accountant and attorney, a former Arthur Andersen partner, and a noted tax adviser. His real estate experience includes office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, condominiums and apartments. His experience with baseball includes everything from selling hotdogs and soft drinks as a teen at Yankee and Shea stadiums, to serving as a financial and tax consultant to the New York Mets for many years. Posner’s other former sports-related clients include the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Class-A minor league baseball franchise, and SportsNet New York, a regional sports network.

“We know we face many challenges,” Ward said. “Assuming the city is agreeable to having us lease the stadium, we will begin renovations aimed at making it more user friendly. We obviously would be interested at some point in reopening discussions of a downtown stadium site, but our priorities are to gain baseball regulatory approval and then upgrade Greer so that it is comfortable for Sounds fans next season.”

The Nashville Sounds began in 1978 as a Double-A franchise for the Cincinnati Reds. The team has played at Greer Stadium since its inception, and has served as a minor league franchise for several major league teams, most recently as the Triple-A franchise for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Posner, Ward and Honzawa said they are working with and will continue to hire Nashville professionals to oversee accounting, banking, legal and other services that will serve the baseball operation. “Like many of today’s Nashvillians, the three of us didn’t grow up here,” Ward said. “But we are eager to be a part of the community. We are very excited.”


wproctor said...

As a native Nashvillian and lifelong baseball fan, I grew up with the Sounds. Unfortunately, as I have grown older, my interest in the team has waned quite a bit. I attribute this to several factors.

1. The major league affiliates: Growing up we had the Reds and Yankees. At that time these teams were steep in tradition and both had great minor league system. Names like Mattingly, McGee, Showalter, etc. passed through Nashville.

2. The PCL: I'm sorry but Nashville has no geographical rivals in the PCL outside of Memphis. No one is going to follow the team to any of its PCL road trips. When the Sounds hit the road they might as well not exist. What's really disappointing is that there are several teams with-in driving distance that we never see (AAA Louisville, AA teams in Jackson, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Birmingham, and so on) And while the AAA game is a notch above the AA game, the line is very fine and to the average fan taking the family to the game, there is little difference.

3. The stadium. I grew up going to games in Greer Stadium and remember when it opened. But the stadium is old and out of date. Not only that, but the area surrounding the park is undesireable at best. We need a new stadium. And it needs to be centrally located in an area in which everyone feels safe when attending.

That's my 2 cents. I would love to be part of any focus groups or discussion panels on this topic. I am very excited about the new ownership and wish them the best.

NashRes said...

Good comments, however, as new investors, ownership needs to address attendance first, which will generate the needed revenue to look explore stadium options and affiliation opportunities that will bring in teams with a closer geopgraphical affiliation to Nashville.
Greer Stadium, in my opinion, is a great location, no downtown parking hassles and no 25 mile drive into the suburbs. The facilities at Greer are deplorable though. A true face lift (not fresh paint) will get the fans back to the ballpark. The seats need to be replaced, the bathrooms gutted and replaced, concessions upgraded and parking for walkup fans changed. Here's my obersvations of the above recommendations:
1)My seat last season had a cracked back and was never repaired.
2)If you've ever used the restooms at Greer, no explanation is needed. I can't figure out how Codes hasn't shut the stadium down because of the filth and disrepair.
Even the restroom in Judge Beans is filthy. The last time I ate there, the water was shut off in the bathroom.
3)The concessions cannot handle a crowd of 4000 people or more. Every game last season that drew a large crowd created a fiasco for concessions. They run out of ice, serve warm bottled water, run out of food and you wait in line 15 minutes to get anything.
4)The parking arrangements are frustrating to the fans. You pull into Greer and there's an army of parking attendents directing you as far away from the stadium as possible. You pass by hundreds of "reserved" spaces on the way in that are never used. They have attendents sitting chairs policing these unused spaces getting pleasure out of telling you to park in the gravel. The Titans don't have as many parking attendants as the Sounds do. It is really frustrating walking from the gravel to the 3rd base entrance with so many empty spaces. A family with young children will not be inclined to return with the long walk from the car.
In summary, Greer has turned into a diamond in the rough that needs some tlc. We will pony up this coming season. The product on the field is excellent. Metro Government and the new ownership will both benefit by working out a solution to give Greer a much needed facelift.

TMOTTBG said...

Firstly, I'm grateful to MFP for coming forward and to hopefully "save" baseball for Nashville.

Secondly, anyone who has been to see the Sounds knows Greer needs a lot of help. As oft mentioned the restrooms, concessions and seating need some serious upgrades. I would think all those could be accomplished to a level of acceptability. I offer that getting the scoreboard into working order and replacing the public address system would improve things also. As far as parking is concerned, hey, it's free and most all of us can benefit from a little extra walking! If you do really need up-close parking that can be arranged.

Thirdly, as far as the Sounds MLB and league affiliation goes does it really matter that much? MLB affiliates can and do change. What matters is that you have one. Yeh, in some ways being associated with one the "bigger" MLB clubs is neat, but in the end it comes down to "love the one you're with"!
Being in the PCL does seem sort of strange. Someone has to be the eastern most team and it just happens to be us. As far as the IL is concerned, outside of Gwinnett and Louisville, the other team's cities aren't really day trips either. In the end there are only so many AAA teams to go around and we are one of them! Of course all this changes if you're willing to leave AAA baseball, but I don't even want to go there.

Finally we, the fans, need to show MFP our desire to support baseball in Nashville. We've shown that pretty well with a less than desirable facility. Let's give MFP a chance to make prudent improvements to Greer, get out to as many games as possible, stick it out a few more seasons and hopefully we'll get that new stadium by the river!

I too would welcome the opportunity to participate in any focus groups or disscussion panels.

Once again, thanks to MFP and welcome to Nashville.

NatureBoyMD said...

I love everything about the Nashville Sounds, except the stadium. Thank you, MFP, for saving the team I love.

Playing at the Triple-A level, we get to watch tomorrow’s, yesterday’s, and today’s major leaguers. Our relationship with a small-market team like the Milwaukee Brewers ensures that we actually get to see their talent. If we were affiliated with big-market clubs like the Yankees or Red Sox we wouldn’t get to see their young talent—they mostly buy players instead of developing them through their own farm systems. Milwaukee’s rich minor league system is bursting with talent that stops in Nashville on its way to The Show.

I love being in the PCL. Its teams are spread out over a greater area than any other league in Minor League Baseball. That’s fine with me. So what if the closest team and our only “rival” is Memphis? I don’t need “rivalries” with other teams to get excited about watching a game.

Though Greer is a great place to watch a game, it is a terrible place to park, use the restroom, eat, etc. The field looks great, some of the seats could use replacing, and a few more light bulbs need to be screwed into the iconic guitar scoreboard. The concession stands tend to get a little long. Last year’s hot dogs were stomach-turning. The corndogs, on the other hand, were like love on a stick, only better. Unfortunately, my beloved “corndog shack” wasn’t always open. We could use some new t-shirts and stuff to buy—new offerings were sparse (or non-existent) last year. Parking is miserable. A gravel lot!?! Are you kidding? Is the concourse supposed to flood when it rains?

Please keep the team the way it is. PCL Triple-A Baseball in Nashville is excellent, but the stadium is in sad shape.

Darrin Devault said...

Thanks to the new owners for seeking input from the Sounds fan base.

I posted my thoughts on my baseball blog titled Killebrew for Torre.

Vexil77 said...

I have been a season ticket holder for years. Of course there are some big things like the bathrooms, the concessions, etc, that make some visitors come one time only and never come again, that are really obvious. But there are some little things that accrue and just become irritating if you go to a lot of games.
1)If they have to be there at all, please get some better between-inning activities that do not involve poster board. I have seem more sophisticated entertainment at vacation bible school.
2) It would also be refreshing to hear an instrumental Star Stangled Banner regularly instead of the regular appearances of godawful American Idol wannabes that put their own personal spin (with mangled lyrics) on our national anthem.
3)The pay parking area for season ticket holders neeeds to be monitored more closely, most of the time when I get there at least half the cars don't have the parking pass
4)Speaking of the parking pass how about ONE hang tag per season ticket holder instead of that entire pad of dated dashboard cards? The dates of which are never checked, anyway?
5)go back to more Sunday day games ALL summer. No, it is not too hot.
6) The ticket promos for the past couple years have been bizarre- the last one being, buy some specific brand of popcorn at Walgreens ONLY and bring in that receipt for a BOGO ticket on Tuesday I think it was. You can do better than that if you want to get people in there on underperformimg nights
7)And then maybe you can have Thirsty Thursday just once a month. I like to drink beer too but good lord, that was a madhouse. There's a DUI wrongful death lawsuit just waiting to happen from all that mess, too. Smoking in the concourse needs to be abolished too. On Thirsty Thursday herd them out one of the gates and let them come back in w/ bracelet. All that drunk, smoking 20-and 30- year old crowd made getting around impossible for non-wasted people. We won't even go into the horrible drunk behavior we see on these nights, that's just something to put up with.
8)Does there have to be an MC guy like that fool Brad Schmitt? Or the other one who was called "That Guy"? Can't the PA announcer do that? And can he think of another phrase besides "direct your attention"
9)Vend some more FOOD in the seats. Not just cotton candy and peanuts.
10)When the prospective ownership announced "everyone can keep their jobs" that might not be such a good thing. The day-to-day management has been inept in many ways, it's not just the ownership