The Oakland A's minor league system will be more spread out geographically in 2015. The A's announced on Thursday that the Nashville Sounds would be the organization's new Triple-A affiliate, replacing the Sacramento River Cats. The new agreement with Nashville guarantees the A's will host their Triple-A team in the Music City through at least 2018.
The Sounds will be opening a new ballpark during the 2015 season. The 10,000-seat stadium will be located in the heart of downtown Nashville and is expected to be one of the nicest facilities in the Pacific Coast League. First Tennessee Park replaces Greer Stadium, which first opened in 1978.
“The Oakland A’s are delighted to enter into this new association with Frank Ward and the Nashville Sounds,” said A’s Vice President and General Manager Billy Beane in a statement issued by the A's.
“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.”
Since 2005, the Nashville Sounds were the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Before that, the Sounds had affiliations with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1998-2004), Chicago White Sox (1993-1997), Cincinnati Reds (1987-92, 1978-79), Detroit Tigers (1985-86) and New York Yankees (1980-84).
The change marks the end of a 16-year relationship between the A's and the Sacramento River Cats franchise. That relationship dated back to 1999, when the River Cats were known as the Vancouver Canadians. The River Cats have yet to announce their new affiliation, although it is expected that it will be with the San Francisco Giants. During the A's time in Sacramento, Oakland Triple-A teams earned 11 division titles and four PCL crowns.
Although not located in the Western half of the United States, the Sounds are still members of the Pacific Coast League. The Sounds are in the Southern division of the Pacific Coast League's American Conference. The Sounds will visit the River Cats for a four-game series running May 25-28 of next season.