Sounds makeover begins with new owners, GM

Purchase agreeement for group gets final approval; King hired

(Nashville Sounds)

By Danny Wild / MLB.com | February 26, 2009 10:37 AM

Nashville will have a slightly different sound this April.

The Nashville Sounds were officially sold on Thursday to MFP Real Estate, LLC, after five months of seeking approval from various leagues. The new bosses wasted little time in taking control, naming George King the club's new general manager in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

AmeriSports Companies, LLC and MFP reached an agreement on Oct. 30, 2008 to sell the Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, to the New York-based MFP group. Terms of the deal, which needed to be approved by the Pacific Coast League, Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball, were not disclosed.

MFP partners Steve Posner and Frank Ward have already begun work on fixing up Greer Stadium, a 10,052-seat ballpark built in 1978 that has been the home of Milwaukee's Triple-A club since 2005.

"We are looking forward to the 2009 season as the new owners of this great franchise," Ward said. "Nashville has a great baseball tradition, and our goal as owners of the team is to continue that tradition and gain the support of our loyal fans and the business community. We hope our work will spur ticket sales."

Ward said in October that he hoped the purchase would have been finalized at the Baseball Winter Meetings in December, but the process, which included background checks, was delayed until 2009. The deal reportedly hinged on the group's desire to keep the Sounds in Nashville.

Posner hinted in October that he'd like to someday explore building a new ballpark for the club in Nashville's downtown area. For now, the group, headed by president Masahiro Honzawa, is busy updating Greer Stadium in time for the club's April 9 home opener against New Orleans. Posner said he'd like to see a more "user-friendly" ballpark that is "comfortable for Sounds fans next season."

King takes over Nashville's front office after spending a dozen years working for the Pacific Coast League. King, who served nine years in the U.S. Navy, spent the past four years as the PCL's Vice President of Business and Operations.

"A city of Nashville's standing deserves a club and ballpark it can be proud of," King said. "We look forward to being Nashville's very own stimulus package of fun against today's headlines and my family is tickled to death to now call Music City home."

Ward also noted King's 15 years in professional baseball.

"Today is an exciting day for the Sounds," Ward said. "We have spent the past few months reviewing a list of well-qualified individuals to become our new general manager. George is very respected throughout the industry, and we look forward to his leadership of professional baseball in Nashville."

Greer Stadium was a central focal point of the sale. The Sounds said they will upgrade the ballpark's restrooms, concession stands, scoreboard, sound system and damaged seats this winter and will address some safety and handicap-access issues during construction. The new owners said the ballpark will also get a new paint job.

MFP was granted a lease extension from Metro Government for Greer Stadium in December that allowed it to continue to make improvements. More than $2 million will go into upgrades at the ballpark, the club said.

Ward, a real estate manager and investor, claims to have 25 years of experience playing fantasy baseball -- a skill he hopes will translate into the economics of the Minors.

Honzawa, a native of Japan, has an MBA from Columbia University and sold his interest in a family-owned business to co-found MFP with Posner and Ward in 2008.

Posner is a certified public accountant and attorney, a former Arthur Andersen partner and a noted tax adviser. He worked his way through law school selling hotdogs and drinks as a teen at Yankee and Shea Stadiums.

The Sounds began in 1978 as a Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The franchise changed affiliations several times since 1978, hosting prospects for the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox and Pirates until 2005.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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