Thursday, January 02, 2014

Talk is cheap. Show me the money!

Three vocal interest groups have taken up the cause of promoting (no questions asked) the Mayor's plan for a new ballpark in the North Capitol/Farmer's Market area of downtown: Friends of Sulphur Dell, the Capitol District and Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership. The first group is basically a Facebook PR sharing website that claims to be grassroots. The second appears to be a bulletin board for real estate industry professionals and developers promoting information that positively effects the housing market (even though it claims to be a "partnership between neighborhoods"). The last is a special interest lobby group for the businesses along the Jefferson Street corridor.

Immediately after these groups enjoyed the moment when the council rolled over without missing the Mayor's beat and voted for the his ballpark plan, the Sounds ball club posted banner advertisements for the chance to buy Sulphur Dell season tickets. It was reported in all the papers:

Sounds announced season tickets availability a month ago.

If these groups really support a new ballpark, then logically, they should step up and encourage their audiences to put deposits down on 2015 tickets, right? We are going to have to pay for this huge capital project, so I would think that these boosters would be pulling out all the stops encouraging people to reserve seats. And it seems to me that their enthusiasm should lead them to harvest the personal anecdotes of those buying tickets and use those stories to promote the Sulphur Dell brand.

However, none of the three are making much of an effort to show the success of their mission after council approval. Outside of linking to news media stories that nebulously claim that tickets are being sold, they are not putting much effort into demonstrating that Sulphur Dell is a popular idea based on high volume pre-sales. Friends of Sulphur Dell seems to have stopped allowing comments on their Facebook page, as if streams of likers sharing news of their seat reservations is either unsuitable or untrue. FOSD comments are now active, so let us see a stream of likers who will confess that they reserved seats in support of economic development on Jefferson Street (it seems that my comments are being disallowed there. Whenever I login to my Facebook account, the comment option disappears).

Wouldn't real friends of Sulphur Dell tout their reserved seats?

If "partners" are buying 2015 season tickets, they are not saying.

Not exactly jumping to advertise Sulphur Dell ticket deposits.

But the FOSD site has always seemed to rely on marching orders from the Mayor's Office rather than on organic, community-based impetus. More curious to me is that the Jeff St merchants group is not even offering the Sounds any free online advertising to help spur ticket sales. Where are those big banners touting Sounds tickets on the JUMP website? How will they ever realize their conjecture that Sulphur Dell will be an economic catalyst if they are not putting their backs into getting their members and their friends to reserve season tickets through the JUMP website?

Some of us have criticized the fact that, under this ballpark plan, the Sounds have relatively little skin in the game. In my opinion, we should also start holding accountable ballpark cheerleaders who are not willing to risk their own hides for this game that they seem so fond of promoting. It is time to put up.

Expect the cynics to accuse us of wanting Sulphur Dell to fail every time we raise questions and concerns out of a sense of honest caution. Well, turnabout is fair play: if they are truly committed to seeing it succeed, then why are they not reserving their seats and helping Nashville start to pay the bills?

When are those on the ballpark bandwagon going to start showing the rest of us just how committed they are to the dream of Sulphur Dell? Where is their faith? What are they waiting for? The Mayor to tell them to do it?


  1. Mike thanks for the opportunity to tout not only my picture but support of the Sounds from a ticketing standpoint. Right before Christmas I called to inquire about reserving seats under their promotion. During that conversation with the Sounds office I also ask about suite pricing. That pricing was not available at the time but the gentleman I spoke with told me it would be soon. I elected to wait to see what that looked like before making any final decisions but I, as a resident and invested business man in the neighborhood, certainly plan on supporting the Sounds for both personal and business reasons. Again, thanks for the encouragement to publically encourage others to do the same.

  2. Good to hear you are a fellow Sounds supporter and thanks for responding. It is good to know that there are some true baseball fans who are not bandwaggoning primarily because they swallow the speculation that their property values will rise.

    Have you heard from any of your cohort at Friends of Sulphur Dell on whether they will be spending their own money reserving season tix to support the ballpark concept that they "liked" so much on Facebook?

    I would be happy to follow up with the news that there is actually popular financial support out there to match boosters' lip service.

  3. I haven't yet but I also haven't gone looking for it either. I realize that you and I respectfully have differing views on this subject but I would have never invested money for season tickets or for that matter given a suite ever a consideration at Greer. However, I most definitely will at the new ballpark. You've had some very good points and questions about this process but I will be happy that I can take clients and friends to a game and walk to and from the park.