FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND INITIATIVE WILL FOCUS ON A DIVERSE OWNERSHIP GROUP FOR A POTENTIAL MLB FRANCHISE
Nashville, TN – Music City Baseball appointed Dave “Smoke” Stewart to lead its Diverse Equity Ownership Initiative, a first-of-its-kind model for ownership of a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.
Stewart will identify a collective of high-net-worth investors for joint ownership, prioritizing minority investors. This marks a step forward in Nashville’s pursuit to secure an MLB team through either expansion or relocation, which is planned to be named the Nashville Stars.
Stewart brings more than 40 years of experience in MLB 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 Toronto Blue Jays. Since 2019, he has served as an active board member and Baseball Advisor to Music City Baseball.
“The time has come for Black ownership in Major League Baseball. Now, more than ever, we need to change the dynamics and unlock access to ownership for minorities,” said Stewart. “We are creating a historic opportunity with the Nashville Stars, and I’m proud to lead our efforts to secure an ownership group that is aligned with our core mission, values, and legacy.”
The proposed team name, the Nashville Stars, pays homage to the Negro Leagues teams that played in Nashville in the 1940s and 1950s. Stewart, in his search for owners, will honor that legacy and continue the ongoing partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
“We’ve added an ace to our pitching staff in this important effort to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville,” said Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and a Board member for Music City Baseball. “In this new role, he will break down barriers in MLB ownership and create a better, more equitable future for the sport. Dave embodies the true spirit of the Negro Leagues, not only in how he played the game, but also in the way he’s helped grow our game through his contributions as a coach, agent and executive – all reasons we inducted him into our Hall of Game in 2019.”
In addition to honoring the past, this initiative will help build the future of the game in a fast-growing region. The city of Nashville had the largest economic growth rate in 2021 of large U.S. metro areas according to Stessa, which is a data and analytics firm.
“Nashville has a unique opportunity to preserve history by creating history, honoring our city’s legacy and bringing new opportunities for equity participation and economic development,” said John Loar, Managing Director of Music City Baseball. “Baseball has a rich history of breaking barriers, and the diversity equity ownership initiative under Dave’s leadership will do just that in a city that’s primed for a major league franchise.”
There are currently no Black principal owners in MLB. While the league has not made any decisions regarding expansion or relocation to Nashville, the effort to focus on a diverse ownership structure mirrors MLB’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“The vision for the Nashville Stars is the future of the game. My focus is to honor former Negro Leagues players and bring Black and diverse voices to the table,” said Stewart. “Nashville is giving Major League Baseball the opportunity to do something that has never been done before. It’s time to make history.”
About Music City Baseball, LLC
Music City Baseball, LLC is an organization of primarily Tennessee business, sports, music, and community leaders that is committed to bringing a Major League Baseball franchise to the City of Nashville, which they plan to name the Nashville Stars. With a focus on securing Major League Baseball’s approval of an expansion franchise in Nashville, the leadership team would welcome the possibility of relocation and rebranding of an existing franchise. For more information, please visit https://www.mlbmusiccity.com.
About Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the world’s only museum 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), not-for-profit organization was established in 1990 and is 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 postseason, winning the World Series MVP, and two League Championship Series MVP awards. After his playing career, he served as a pitching coach for the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, and Toronto Blue Jays. He also spent time as an Assistant General Manager for the Blue Jays. After leaving Toronto, Stewart formed his own representation agency based in San Diego until the Arizona Diamondbacks hired him as General Manager. Stewart’s diverse and unique experience allows him to approach organizational development with a “team-first” approach to success. He currently serves as a board member and Baseball Advisor for Music City Baseball and was inducted into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s Hall of Game in 2019.
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