Nashville Kats

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This page contains information regarding two Nashville Kats franchises. The original Nashville Kats moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2002 and became the Georgia Force. The second incarnation of the Nashville Kats, which began play as an expansion team in the Arena Football League in 2005, assumed the original team's pre-move history.
Nashville Kats
NashvilleKats.png
Founded 1997 (original incarnation)
2005 (second incarnation)
Folded 2001 (original incarnation)
2007 (second incarnation)
League Arena Football League
Conference American
Division Central
Based in Nashville, Tennessee
Arena Gaylord Entertainment Center
Colors Sky Blue, Navy, White & Red
                   
Owner(s) Mark Bloom (original incarnation)
Bud Adams (second incarnation)
Head coach Pat Sperduto
Division titles 2 (1997 & 2001)
Playoff berths 6 (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2006)

The Nashville Kats were an Arena Football League team, located in Nashville, Tennessee. They were last coached by Pat Sperduto, who coached the team's original incarnation to two ArenaBowl appearances prior to the original franchise's move to Atlanta in 2002 (then becoming the Georgia Force). Sperduto also coached the second incarnation of the Nashville Kats following their return to the Arena Football League as an expansion team in 2005. The Nashville Kats have been rumored to return to the Arena Football League in 2013 or later.

History[edit]

Original Nashville Kats (1997–2001)[edit]

NashvilleKatsOld.png

The team began as the Nashville Kats in 1997. The original Kats played in the then-named Nashville Arena (AKA "The Alley") in downtown Nashville. The team was named for the 1967 hit "Nashville Cats" by The Lovin' Spoonful. The team's logo featured an anthropomorphic tabby wearing a 1950s-style leather jacket, holding the neck of a guitar in one paw and juggling a football with the other.

The Kats were initially coached by Eddie Khayat in 1997 and 1998, who was succeeded by Pat Sperduto for the balance of the team's time in Nashville (including the second incarnation of the team). The Kats were the league's Organization of the Year for their inaugural year of 1997, and were in the playoffs for every season of their relatively brief existence. The team's success in the playoffs led to consecutive appearances in the ArenaBowl (XIV and XV) each of the original team's final two seasons, although they were unable to win the AFL's championship in either appearance.

After being unable to reach favorable agreements with arena management which was controlled by the venue's primary tenant, the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League, majority owner Mark Bloom sold the franchise in December 2001 to Virgil Williams, an Atlanta businessman, for nearly $10 million. The team's departure from the Nashville market was not related to lack of success neither on the field, nor at the box office, where they were a superior draw to several ongoing Arena football teams, but rather their inability to negotiate a favorable lease with the Predators. Following the move to Atlanta, this team would be rechristened the Georgia Force.

The birth of the expansion Nashville Kats (2001–2005)[edit]

Shortly after the original team's departure from Nashville, Bud Adams, the owner of the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League, purchased the rights to an expansion franchise in Nashville (along with the Kats identity). Initially, Adams was unable to negotiate a lease with the Nashville Predators to return the team to the Gaylord Entertainment Center (formerly Nashville Arena) on terms he deemed to be adequately favorable. Because Nashville Municipal Auditorium and Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym, the only other sizable indoor venues in Nashville, are unsuitable for arena football (Municipal Auditorium's floor was too small to contain the field of play as its ice hockey rink had always been of less-than-regulation size and Vanderbilt had a "dry" policy for on-campus athletic events), Adams explored the idea of building his own mid-size arena (roughly 10,000 seats) to host the Kats and compete with the Gaylord Entertainment Center for concerts and smaller sporting events. Ultimately, the Predators agreed to a deal with Adams during the summer of 2004. Following the new agreement, Adams announced that the expansion Kats would begin play for the 2005 season and would return to the arena the original team called home.

While the majority of the new team was owned by Adams, country music singer Tim McGraw was brought in as a minority investor. McGraw, his wife Faith Hill, and their children were often seen on the first row of sideline seats along the south endzone. As a tie-in with McGraw, the PA system played his hit "I Like It, I Love It" following a Kats touchdown.

The new Kats take the field (2005–2007)[edit]

The second incarnation of the Nashville Kats began play in 2005 at the then-Gaylord Entertainment Center, the home of the original Kats team. When the Kats were revived as an expansion team, the new team re-assumed from the Georgia Force all Nashville Kats history prior to the franchise's move to Atlanta. This was an arrangement similar to the one made in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes. The revived logo was almost identical to the original logo. The noteworthy exceptions were the ball (which was drawn as the lighter colored, brown-with-blue-stripe ball used in the AFL at that time) and the color scheme of the logo, which was slightly modified to mirror the team colors of the Tennessee Titans. New team uniforms also adopted the Tennessee Titans color scheme, going from the dark blue/silver/white combination of the original team to a new scheme including "Titans" light blue/red/white. The new team also introduced a new in-arena mascot named Kool Kat, a cat clad in a jersey and shorts that often performed daredevil stunts during breaks in the game.[1]

The new Kats' first season started horrendously. After an opening victory on the road, it took until week 8 for the franchise to record another victory. But after that, the Kats won their next five games, and finished the season with a 6–9–1 record. The 41–41 tie at the Dallas Desperados on April 8 was only the second in AFL history, and prompted the League to change its overtime rules to eliminate ties before the start of the 2006 season.

Nashville finished the 2006 regular season with an 8–8 record; good enough to earn the team a playoff berth. The Kats lost in the opening round to the Chicago Rush.

The Kats finished the 2007 season with a 7–9 record and just missed the playoffs after a Utah Blaze win in the final week of the season.

On October 10, 2007, after months of speculation, owner Bud Adams decided to shut down operations for the second time in Nashville Kats history. While ticket sales had been good initially, the team struggled at the box office following its poor performance in the 2005 season (the first season of the expansion team).

The team was not mentioned as a possible addition to the resurrected AFL in 2010, though fans have been clamoring for a return of the Kats in some form to the renamed Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Notable coaches[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2007 Arena Football League season.

Name Term Regular Season Playoffs Awards
W L T Win% W L
Eddie Khayat 19971998 19 9 0 .679 0 2 1997 AFL Coach of the Year
Pat Sperduto 19992001, 2005-2007 48 41 1 .539 5 4

Notable players[edit]

Arena Football Hall of Famers[edit]

Nashville Kats Hall of Famers
No. Name Year Inducted Position(s) Years w/ Kats
24 Cory Fleming 2013 WR/LB 1997-2001, 2006
7 Darryl Hammond 2013 WR/DB 1997-2001, 2005-2006
 ?? Joe March 2000 OL/DL 1997

Individual awards[edit]

All-Arena players[edit]

The following Kats players have been named to All-Arena Teams:

All-Ironman players[edit]

The following Force players have been named to All-Ironman Teams:

All-Rookie players[edit]

The following Kats players have been named to All-Rookie Teams:

Season-by-season[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]