Justin Timberlake joins Nashville bid hoping to become MLB's first Black-owned franchise

Jason Owens
·3 mins read

Nashville’s bid to land an MLB team has flown under the radar.

It got an injection of star power on Wednesday by the name of Justin Timberlake.

The Grammy-winning musician and entertainer told The Tennessean on Wednesday that he has joined in investment group hoping to make the Nashville Stars MLB’s next franchise.

“I am thrilled to be involved in the movement to bring Major League Baseball to the great state of Tennessee,” Timberlake wrote in a statement.

The bid hopes to either land a new franchise or lure an existing team to relocate to Nashville and rebrand.

Big MLB names on board

Former Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations is also on board as an investor. Former MLB pitcher and Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart is on the board of directors, and Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa is an advisor.

Stewart is one of five Black general managers in MLB history. He told USA Today in July that the ultimate goal is to present Nashville’s bid to MLB with majority Black ownership.

Bid looks to honor Negro Leagues, Jackie Robinson

The Nashville Stars name is a nod to a Negro League team that went by the same name. The plan is to build a 42,000-seat stadium in honor of Jackie Robinson and have the sport’s first franchise with majority Black ownership.

“This is what baseball should do,’’ Stewart told USA Today. “They should open the doors to Black ownership, diverse ownership. This is the time for baseball to do something they’ve never done. For what this country is going through, and what baseball is going through, there will be a residual effect. This is history.”

Justin Timberlake performs at the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Franklin, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Justin Timberlake performs at the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Franklin, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Timberlake adds tie to music scene

Timberlake obviously doesn’t help with the Black ownership cause. But the Memphis native and minority Grizzlies owner does bring some heft and limelight to the bid that also looks to create ties with the music scene in Nashville.

John Loar, a transplanted California businessman who is leading the bid, told The Tennesean that recruiting Timberlake was one of his top priorities.

“I reached out to Justin's management group and and we've been working with Justin for over six months,” Loar said. “I think he's passionate about sports and he's interested in the entertainment angle that we're presenting in building a world class entertainment district, which includes a ballpark.”

Loar, who is white, will need to find more Black investors to meet the bid’s minority ownership goal. He told USA Today in July that the bid’s board is made up of mostly minorities and that the ownership stake at that point was “30 percent diverse.”

The group hopes to have a bid ready for the 2021 winter meetings scheduled to take place in Nashville.

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