FIRST OF KIND INITIATIVE FOCUS ON DIVERSIFIED OWNERSHIP GROUP FOR POTENTIAL MLB FRANCHISE
Nashville, TN – Music City Baseball has appointed Dave “Smoke” Stewart to lead its Diverse Equity Ownership Initiative, a one-of-a-kind model for Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise ownership.
Stewart will identify a collective of wealthy investors for the co-ownership, giving priority to minority investors. This marks a step forward in Nashville’s pursuit to secure an MLB team through expansion or relocation, which should be called the Nashville Stars.
Stewart brings more than 40 years of MLB experience as a player, coach, agent and front office executive, having won three World Series titles as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics and Blues. Toronto Jays. Since 2019, he has been an active board member and baseball advisor for Music City Baseball.
“The time has come for black ownership of Major League Baseball. Now, more than ever, we need to change the dynamic and unlock minority homeownership,” said Stewart. “We are creating a historic opportunity with the Nashville Stars, and I am proud to lead our efforts to secure an ownership group aligned with our core mission, values and heritage.”
The proposed team name, the Nashville Stars, honors the Negro Leagues teams that played in Nashville in the 1940s and 1950s. Stewart, in its search for owners, will honor this legacy and continue the ongoing partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
“We’ve added an ace to our pitching team in this important effort to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and member of the Music City Baseball board of directors. “In this new role, he will break down barriers in MLB ownership and create a better and fairer future for the sport. Dave embodies the true spirit of the Negro Leagues, not only in the way he played the game, but also in the way he helped grow our game through his contributions as a coach, agent and executive – all reasons why we inducted him into our Hall of Game in 2019.”
In addition to honoring the past, this initiative will help build the future of gaming in a growing region. The city of Nashville had the highest economic growth rate in 2021 of major US metropolitan areas according to Stessa, which is a data and analytics company.
“Nashville has a unique opportunity to preserve history by creating history, honoring our city’s heritage, and providing new opportunities for equity participation and economic development,” said John Loar, CEO of Music City Baseball. “Baseball has a rich history of breaking down barriers, and the Diverse Ownership Initiative under Dave’s leadership will do just that in a city that’s ready for a major league franchise.”
There are currently no black primary owners in MLB. Although the league has not made any decisions regarding expansion or relocation to Nashville, the effort to focus on a diverse ownership structure reflects MLB’s commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion. .
“The vision of the Nashville Stars is the future of the game. My goal is to honor former Negro League players and bring black and diverse voices to the table,” Stewart said. “Nashville gives Major League Baseball the opportunity to do something that has never been done before. It’s time to write history.
About Music City Baseball, LLC
Music City Baseball, LLC is an organization comprised primarily of Tennessee business, sports, music, and community leaders who are committed to bringing a Major League Baseball franchise to the city of Nashville, whether they plan to nominate the Nashville Stars. With a focus on securing Major League Baseball approval for an expansion franchise in Nashville, the management team would welcome the possibility of relocating and renaming an existing franchise. For more information, please visit https://www.mlbmusiccity.com.
About the Black League Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America. The privately funded 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was established in 1990 and is located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri’s Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. The NLBM operates two blocks from the Paseo YMCA where Andrew “Rube” Foster established the Negro National League in 1920. To learn more about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, please visit https://www.nlbm.com.
About Dave “Smoke” Stewart
Dave “Smoke” Stewart is a former MLB All-Star who thrived in the playoffs, winning the World Series MVP title and two League Championship Series MVP awards. After his playing career, he coached pitching for the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays. He also spent time as assistant general manager of the Blue Jays. After leaving Toronto, Stewart formed his own San Diego-based agency until the Arizona Diamondbacks hired him as general manager. Stewart’s diverse and unique background allows her to approach organizational development with a “team first” approach to success. He is currently a board member and baseball advisor for Music City Baseball and was inducted into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Hall of Game in 2019.