By Chip Cruze
Nashville Baseball Academy
This is a plan to provide space that serves and benefits the Nashville community, with particular emphasis on the at-risk population and preservation of historical sites in our city.
Developing the Greer Stadium facility as a youth baseball/athletic complex and indoor activity center not only makes sense for the city, it also creates a space where at-risk youth can come to stay active year-round and even a place to provide community support academically and socially.
This type of development, including walking trails and green space, could not only create the kind of gentrification that compliments what’s going on in the Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood, it also serves the ENTIRE community and provides an active/activity space for an in-need target audience.
In addition, it helps preserve a historical site that dates back to the civil war when baseball was being played there.
Recently, the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau listed “Promote Williamson County as a top destination for youth and amateur sporting events” as number three on their list of goals to increase tourism by 50%.
Developing Greer into a state-of-the-art baseball/athletic complex for youth ages 4 through 18 would increase Davidson County’s appeal in that regard too – an idea that could certainly appeal to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Another great reason was presented in a story on NPR last Fall:
With 9 murders in Nashville in September, Chief Anderson and the Metro council are looking for ways to combat what he said has become “more psychology and sociology, and less crime fighting.” And, he said they have to “look at ways of improving after-school options to combat violence.”
This project can go a long way toward creating these kinds of options.
So far, Nashville’s gentrification projects have targeted the affluent, but the opportunity with the Greer site could help the city, and Mayor Barry address an acknowledged area of need with regard to the inner city and at-risk youth.
There is plenty of room on the Greer site to build 4-6 more baseball fields for ages 4-12 which could feed into the showcase field currently in place, and resurrect the Nashville RBI program and add Junior RBI (MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities).
Some of the biggest challenges the RBI program has had over the years, even when Reggie Whittemore was running it, is field access – where do they practice, how do you get all those kids down to Franklin, Smyrna, LaVergne, wherever the tournaments are. This project puts what could be a state-of-the-art facility on the bus line, and right between Lafayette and Edgehill, and could bring more of those opportunities closer to home.
If we could get the city on board with the idea, surely we could tap into MLB and try to get them involved financially. Major League Baseball is serious about RBI/Jr. RBI initiative, and this could be a statement project for all concerned.
Nashville RBI is virtually non-existent at this point, and we have an opportunity now to revive the program and make it thrive. The rehabbed Greer site could be a home like they’ve never had.
And, since the stadium will no longer need to accommodate 10,000 fans and the parking they require, there’s also plenty of room to build additional indoor space so kids can stay active through inclement weather and the winter months.
The outdoor facility could also be used for youth baseball tournaments, youth football, and soccer and stay in use from March to November, with kids using the indoor spaces over the winter months to stay active and involved in wholesome activities.
We also have a chance to recognize Nashville’s rich baseball history with an on-site baseball history museum. Skip Nipper, Nashville’s foremost baseball historian, believes the Society of American Baseball Research and the Metro Historical Commission would have interest as well.
Another opportunity exists with the NFL and the Titans, and the NFL Play60 initiative. We don’t currently have an on-going Play60 program in operation in Nashville, and there’s an opportunity here using the fields for youth football.
Since youth football field dimensions are only 70 feet wide by 80 yards long, the baseball fields could easily be used for youth football. With Titans ownership’s increased interest in community involvement, it seems reasonable to expect they would have some level of interest and involvement, and the possibility of additional financial support from the National Football League.
The Old Timers Baseball Association, Crieve Hall Youth Athletic Association and Nashville Baseball Academy are willing to step up and make this pitch together, but we’ll need development partners.
Tennis courts, an amphitheater and/or a greenway at Greer won’t help the community at large or this in-need community. Baseball/athletic fields and an indoor facility will.
The indoor facility could be used for all kinds of activities – educational and social – including serving as a Safe Place, the “national youth outreach and prevention program for young people in need of immediate help and safety.”
The options to serve the community on this site are virtually innumerable, including tutoring options for K-12 (maybe even a possible partnership with the Martha O’Bryan Center?).
One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.”
Let’s be who we say we are and do the right thing – this is a great opportunity!
Here's a Development Idea for Greer Stadium