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.?
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.
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.