Oct 14, 2021

Axios Nashville

It's Thursday and we're only a couple of days away from a gorgeous fall weekend.

🌤 Today's weather: But it's still stubbornly hot for now, with a high of about 85.

Today's newsletter is 960 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Nashville's hoop dream team

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A coalition of city leaders is slowly making progress on its mission to attract a women's professional sports team to Nashville.

  • The women's professional sports ad hoc committee, led by influential attorney Margaret Behm, met last week to hear an update from the city's consultant.

Why it matters: Members of the Metro Sports Authority, the Nashville Sports Council and top tourism leaders believe the city is popular and passionate enough to expand its sports portfolio. Rumors of new pro teams have swirled for years but WNBA prospects are pulling away from the rest of the pack.

  • The professional sports consulting firm CAA Icon released an initial report last year laying out the women's pro sports landscape and the possibility of each league expanding. Since then, Nashville has gotten WNBA buzz.
  • Nashville and Tennessee have a proud history in women's basketball, highlighted by the success of the legendary Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt.

What they're saying: "Nashville has been listed as one of five or six (cities) that the media speculates would be an appropriate place for a WNBA team," Behm said during last week's meeting. "It is one of the most difficult leagues to break into because of the limited opportunities and the number of teams. So I see an opportunity here for Nashville."

What's next: CAA Icon plans to complete a new report by the end of the year focusing on the local economic impact of women's sports and an in-depth market analysis of Nashville's potential fit for a women's pro team.

Be smart: The WNBA, in its 25th season, is coming off its best television and streaming ratings since 2008 and recently signed long-term partnership deals with large companies such as Google, Deloitte and AT&T. With household names that include Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi currently playing in the Finals, the WNBA is easily the most successful women's pro league in the country.

  • WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said earlier this year expansion is "something that, as we’ve come out of this pandemic, hopefully next year that we’ll prepare to start talking about."
  • The league currently has just 12 franchises and expansion has been rumored for years. Now, its financial ecosystem seems healthy enough to move forward.
  • The key next step is identifying possible venues a WNBA franchise could call home as well as drawing the attention of prospective ownership groups.
2. Church Street Park donation

The newly revamped Church Street Park. Photo courtesy of The Historic Capitol Corridor Foundation

Amazon is giving $50,000 to continue beautification, security and events at the newly revamped Church Street Park downtown.

Why it matters: As redevelopment and construction surged in Nashville, the pocket park at the corner of Church Street and Sixth Avenue became a battleground, with advocates fighting to preserve the small patch of green space in the heart of the city.

  • The Historic Capitol Corridor Foundation, which announced the donation Wednesday, led efforts to revitalize the park.
  • After extensive renovations, the park reopened this summer with a new look and a suite of public programming, including concerts, yoga and guided meditation.
  • Amazon's donation will go toward maintaining those efforts.

Background: Amazon's new corporate offices are in the nearby Nashville Yards development.

3. Refugee fund launches

Refugees from Afghanistan walk through Washington Dulles International Airport in August. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Several local advocacy groups are teaming up to raise money for Afghan refugees heading to Nashville.

  • At-large council member Zulfat Suara told reporters a new fundraising effort will give refugees "the resources and support that they need to transition into their new home."

Why it matters: More than 300 evacuees from Afghanistan are expected to settle in the Nashville area, according to the United Way of Middle Tennessee.

The details: Advocates have set a fundraising goal of $300,000.

  • They stressed the fact while speaking to reporters on Wednesday that resettlement takes place on an incredibly tight timeline. Agencies might only have a few days to secure housing, furniture and food for new arrivals.
  • Existing government aid for resettlement agencies often is not enough to pay for those early basics.
  • The United Way of Greater Nashville, Catholic Charities Diocese of Nashville, the Nashville International Center for Empowerment, and the American Muslim Advisory Council are part of the effort.

What's next: Multiple groups said some Afghan refugees had already started to arrive in Nashville, with more expected in the coming weeks.

4. The Setlist

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  • The state charter school commission approved a new West Nashville location, overruling the school board. (The Tennessean)
  • The Rutherford County Juvenile Court judge at the center of an investigation by WPLN and ProPublica is no longer an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University. (WPLN)
  • HCA gave $1 million to the Nashville Rescue Mission. (WSMV)
  • A new Jan. 6 video of the alleged "zip-tie guy" was released. (NewsChannel5)
5. You guessed it!

Photo courtest of Forrest Havens

👋 Adam here! Earlier this week I posted a selfie in front of a disapproving "No Selfies" mural and dared you to name the spot.

Congratulations to Michael Y. and Ann D. for correctly calling it out as the corner of Porter Road and Greenwood Avenue in East Nashville. Technically speaking, the mural is on the side of the Tabla Rasa Toys building.

  • You're both getting Axios swag!

This has to be in the running for the most romantic intersection in town. The cozy neighborhood atmosphere makes it the perfect date-night destination.

  • On one corner, there's Vinyl Tap, the record store-bar combo where you can pick up a copy of "ABBA Gold" while you're waiting for your drink.
  • On another, there's Cafe Roze, which we featured recently for its adorable sidewalk cafe setup. It also has a delicious chili eggplant dish.
  • Right across the street is the taproom for the local brewery Southern Grist.

If you're feeling adventurous, stop by quintessential Nashville dive bar Fran's Eastside for some after-dinner karaoke.

⛱ Nate is still on vacation.

🎤 Adam is just waiting for Adele to release her new single.