Why Nashville?

A friend of mine recently posed a baseball-related question that I found kind of interesting and, more importantly, one that I didn’t have a clue about (which isn’t at all a surprise)  – Why are the 2012 MLB Winter Meetings being held in Nashville, Tennessee which does not have a Major League Baseball team (nor does the entire Volunteer State for that matter). Now granted, the physical location of the annual Winter Meetings has absolutely nothing to do with the actual game itself, but why Nashville and not, say, Los Angeles, or Seattle, or San Diego, or Boston, etc.?

The 2011 MLB Winter Meetings were held in Dallas, Texas. (Photo courtesy of MLB.com)

As usually happens with just about all things baseball related, my friend’s question got my curiosity juices flowing and armed with a good question and access to the World Wide Web, I began my search.

First of all, what the heck are the Winter Meetings? Well, rather than me trying to offer a lame answer, here is a great answer from (you guess it) Wikipedia:

The Baseball Winter Meetings are an annual event, held each December, attended by representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball organizations, more than 160 minor league baseball teams, various league offices, companies associated with baseball and guests from international baseball-playing countries for four days during the off-season. (They left out the bazillion media people).

This is a time when many off-season trades and transactions are completed. The Rule 5 draft, where players who are not on a team’s 40-man roster can be drafted by another team, is held on the shortened last day of the meetings. It is generally considered the culmination of baseball’s “hot stove league” (another Wikipedia explanation).

The tradition of baseball holding off-season meetings during December dates back as far as 1876, the first off-season of the National League. At the 1876 meetings, William Hulbert was selected to be the league’s president, and two teams (the New York Mutuals and Philadelphia Athletics) were expelled from the league for failing to complete their 1876 schedule.

How’s that for an answer!

But even Wikipedia didn’t answer why or how specific cities were selected to host the annual Winter Meetings. The best that I could come up with is the fact that the location of the Winter Meetings changes every year and it seems that it/they are only held in larger cities that have large convention centers and/or large visitors and tourism bureaus. They are also held in cities that have airports (in most cases international airports) within a relatively close proximity which, of course, makes perfect sense.

The 2011 MLB Winter Meetings were held in Dallas, in Nashville this year, and are scheduled to be held in Orlando next year.

Nashville may not have a MLB team but it is a beautiful city and home of the Country Music Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau)

All of this certainly gives the impression that the venues for the Winter Meetings are most likely determined through a bidding process, much like the annual All-Star game – although clearly to a much lesser degree because, as I mentioned, neither Nashville nor Orlando have MLB teams. As such, I have to believe that the winning bid is based more than anything on the cost and the availability of lodging facilities. Keep in mind that representative from all 30 MLB teams and most MiLB teams come to the Winter Meetings, not to mention thousands of international baseball representatives and countless media people – all of whom need a place to eat and sleep. As such, hosting the annual MLB Winter Meetings is obviously a huge boost the that cities local economy.

But wait… There’s more!

Every year, the host cities also put on a Baseball Trade Show in conjunction with the Winter Meetings. At this annual trade show, vendors from every aspect of baseball “outside the lines” display their wares including manufacturers and distributors of apparel, caps, gift items, souvenirs, promotional products, and service companies including insurance, architecture, concessions, printing, marketing, internet and entertainment, stadium equipment, food and beverage products, on-field suppliers, player equipment, and more. This thing sounds like the mother of all Fan Fests but geared towards team owners, general managers, marketing and promotions personnel, stadium operations personnel, coaches, team organizers, equipment manager and buyers, and the like.

So there you have it – the best I could do in finding out the ‘why and how’ the locations of the annual MLB Winter Meetings are determined. Feel free to jump on in and add anything else you may have on this stuff.

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5 Responses to “Why Nashville?”

  1. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Now that’s pretty good. Actually, very good. Why didn’t I think of that.

    I expected there was money to be made but didn’t know just how.

    We visited Nashville back in the late eighties. Great vacation, nice city except for the one area. Nashville fell out of favor with me when they allowed country music to be murdered down in music row. Now, I have hopes of saying: “Huh! Nashville -that’s where the Dodgers won the 2013 WS.” So Ned get it going.

  2. MFGRREP says:

    The Winter meetings are in fact the same as a convention and as you noted with its size comes the demand of space, lodging and economics. I’ve owned a local Southern California Electronics trade show for several years and I participate in a number of them every year. I can tell from first hand experience its big business. Las Vegas is what it is today because of trade shows and large events. Venues and city governments go after conventions and these types of events with a vengeance. For example the City of San Diego’s largest event every year is ComicCon. It brings in over a BILLION DOLLARS in the local community in less then a weeks time. San Diego has ComicCon booked for the next several years. As far as why some of these events move around and go to strange places? What I’ve seen in other industries is simply a desire to mix it up and give the attendees something new every year. Your findings about airports, hotels etc.. is the biggest task for large events, it makes the process a huge undertaking and requires a lot of planning by a large staff which is why you see these events scheduled out for several years.

    What you noted in your article is what confuses me as well which is why not support the cities that have baseball ??

  3. lindav says:

    Good article and good thought on why they don’t support the cities that have the ML teams. Would love to have it in Las Vegas (does AAA count?) – think of the possible autograph opportunities. I’d be a groupie :)

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