The A's are headed to the capital of country music. Oakland announced a four-year player development deal with Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League on Thursday, a deal that will run through the 2018 season. Oakland's Triple-A home has been in Sacramento the past 15 years.
Oakland will be the seventh Major League team to have an affiliation with the Nashville Sounds since the franchise was established in 1978. Billy Beane, general manager and vice president of the A's, released an official statement in which he addressed the club's decision to relocate its top affiliate.
"The Oakland A's are delighted to enter into this new association with Frank Ward and the Nashville Sounds," Beane said. "As we did our due diligence of available Triple-A markets, it became very clear that Nashville was the most attractive. It is a dynamic city and entertainment center with first-rate ownership, a long history of baseball and a location that is convenient for player movement. In addition, we are excited to be part of a new era of Nashville baseball with the 2015 opening of First Tennessee Park."
Expected to open in April, Nashville's new ballpark will hold 10,000 fans and have space to watch games on a berm in the outfield area. Prior to relocating to their new stadium, the Nashville Sounds had played at Herschel Greer Stadium.
But the new stadium will have its own share of history. It's being built on the former location of Sulphur Dell Park, an old-time stadium in Nashville that hosted Minor League and Negro League games for nearly a century. Sulpher Dell hosted its first Minor League team in 1885 and its last in 1963.
The Nashville Sounds have had affiliations with several teams over the years, including the Milwaukee Brewers (2005-14), Pittsburgh Pirates (1998-2004), Chicago White Sox (1993-97), Cincinnati Reds (1987-92, 1978-79), Detroit Tigers (1985-86) and New York Yankees (1980-84).
"We are thrilled to begin this new relationship with the A's, who hold an exciting future on both the Major League and Minor League levels," said Frank Ward, owner of the Nashville Sounds. "Oakland has an outstanding track record of success at the Triple-A level. We're looking forward to watching their next tier of stars develop at our state-of-the-art First Tennessee Park."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.