So, this led me to think about some "What Ifs" concerning Nashville sports. Please note that, as written, all of these situations are independent of each other.
What if the Minnesota Timberwolves had indeed moved to Nashville in 1997?
- The Timberwolves move to Nashville, giving Nashville Arena a full-time NBA tenant.
- The National Hockey League no longer sees Nashville as a favorable location for an expansion team, and can't find a fourth city to build a new arena and round out the planned expansion, so they cut out Columbus and expand only to Atlanta and Minnesota, leaving the league with 28 teams.
- The Vancouver Grizzlies continue to struggle in Western Canada, but see the now-NBAless Twin Cities as a much more viable relocation destination than moving a second team into Tennessee. Memphis has no new arena, and no NBA team.
- Nashville never falls in love with the Predators, of course, but with our sense of civic pride, we rally behind our Wolves and become a successful NBA market. Nashville still hates Detroit, but the ire is directed squarely at the Pistons instead.
What if the New Jersey Devils had moved to Nashville?
- Nashville gets the Devils, but the Southern Baptist Convention stages a protest against the team's name.
- The NHL expands to 30 teams, granting franchises to Atlanta, Columbus, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The potential of a replacement New Jersey franchise is met with much protest from the owners of the Rangers and Islanders, and the NHL instead decides to place that new franchise in Kansas City.
What if former Houston mayor Bob McNair had given Bud Adams a new stadium?
- Houston builds a new, larger, football-only Astrodome, next door to the existing one. It does not have a retractable roof. It is given the nickname "The Oil Rig".
- The Astros do not get their new stadium downtown and leave for the greener pastures of Northern Virginia.
- Several years later, Houston relents and decides to build a new stadium for the Montreal Expos, who MLB decides to move to the original Astrodome until the new digs are ready.
- Because there is no viable owner, and the market is not seen as large or sophisticated enough, Nashville is never even sniffed as a viable location for the new expansion team that would give the NFL 32 franchises, and the NFL returns instead to Los Angeles.
- "Music City Miracle" never enters the lexicon, and Steve McNair never meets Sahel Kazemi.
- Nashville builds a shiny new minor league ballpark for the Sounds on the east bank of the Cumberland River, on an old bargeyard between the Woodland Street & Shelby Street bridges.
Conversely, what if "NFL Yes" had failed?
- No stadium would have been built in Nashville.
- The Predators would be the only major pro sports franchise in Nashville, and would have sold out every single game since the team's inception. Craig Leipold never sells the team, and the people of Nashville still consider buying BlackBerry devices.
What if Gus Malzahn said yes to Vanderbilt's offer?
- They would still suck.
Feel free to add your own What If questions (and answers, if you wish) in the comments below. It's an interesting conversation.