Predators could bring 1st pro-sports title to Nashville

Patrick Murray reports live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

NASHVILLE - New York owns 53. Boston has 35. Los Angeles claims 25.

Heck, even Phoenix and Atlanta each have one.

Nashville? Zero — a number that could change next week.

One of the few missing achievements on our city's growing and impressive resume is the lack of a major professional sports championship.

Yes, the Nashville Sounds won the Triple-A Pacific Coast League baseball championship in 2005; the Nashville Dixie Flyers won back-to-back minor league hockey titles in 1966-67.

But Nashville has never won a championship in a major sports league.

Of the country's 33 metro areas with two or more professional sports franchises, all but four have won a championship. Buffalo, Charlotte and Orlando and Nashville are the only cities never to raise a championship banner.

That would change if the Predators claim the Stanley Cup.

"People in Nashville are completely invested in (the Predators), although they don’t receive any tangible benefit from it," said Andrei Markovits, professor of political science at the University of Michigan. "It’s a form of religion. It’s a form of pride. A form of culture."

Mayor Megan Barry said the Predators' postseason success and possible Stanley Cup championship has elicited more than just pride from the city.

“The energy and excitement surrounding the Predators’ historic success is truly amazing — it has brought together the city like few things I have ever seen before," Barry said. "Whether you were a hockey fan or Preds fan before the playoffs, I think everyone is rooting for our team to bring the Cup home to Nashville. The positive press and the expansion of the Predators’ fan base to other parts of the country will surely help to add a new dimension to Nashville’s success as a tourist destination and a major player in professional sports."

Markovits said sports titles can give not only die-hard fans, but casual fans, a psychological lift.

"What’s interesting about sports, you really feel an added bounce in your step," he said. "Although you have not gotten prettier, you haven’t gotten healthier."

And it allows politicians to brag about their sports teams and their cities on an international stage.

Cleveland ended a 68-year pro title drought when the Cavaliers won the NBA title in 2016, and that changed the psyche of the city, Mayor Frank J. Jackson said.

"The strength and determination displayed throughout the season, postseason and championship game are truly the embodiment of our city and its people. A city and a people with heart," Jackson said.

Boston has been spoiled in recent years, winning nine championships since 2000 — five Super Bowl wins by the Patriots, three World Series titles by the Red Sox and one Stanley Cup by the Bruins.

"Win or lose, Boston never stops believing in our sports teams, and that makes winning championships worth it all," Boston mayor Martin J. Walsh said.

Markovits said the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Nashville Predators all have one major thing in common.

"Everyone loves the underdogs," he said. "I am rooting for the Predators."

That coveted first championship is two wins away. And then Buffalo, Charlotte and Orlando would be alone with none.

Title (and title-less) towns

Metro areas with the most major professional sports championships:

New York: 53
Boston: 35
Los Angeles: 26
Chicago: 20
San Francisco Bay area: 18
Detroit: 18

Metro areas (with two or more teams) without a professional sports championship:

Buffalo, Charlotte, Nashville, Orlando

Tennessean


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