- This page is for the second Nashville Kats franchise, which began play in the Arena Football League in 2005. The original Nashville Kats moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2002 and became the Georgia Force. The second incarnation of the Kats assumed the original team's pre-move history.
|Prior names||Nashville Kats (1997–2001)|
|Divisional championships||1997, 2001|
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 franchise's move to Atlanta in 2002.
The Nashville Kats began play in 2005 at the Sommet Center (formerly Nashville Arena and Gaylord Entertainment Center), also home of the Nashville Predators hockey team. The majority of the team was owned by Bud Adams, the owner of the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League; country music singer Tim McGraw was a minority investor, and when the Kats scored a touchdown, the PA system played one of McGraw's hits, "I Like It, I Love It." The Kats had a rivalry with the Grand Rapids Rampage which dated back to the original Kats in their ArenaBowl XV appearance in which they lost to the Rampage 64–42.
Original Nashville Kats (1997–2001)Edit
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, and 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. 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, even playing in the ArenaBowl(XIV and XV) each of their final two seasons, albeit winning ounce they reached the AFL's championship game in 2001.
After agreements with arena management and the 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 or at the box office, but rather their inability to negotiate a favorable lease with the Predators. This team would become the Georgia Force.
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.
Kats revived (2005–2007)Edit
Shortly after the team's exit, Adams purchased the rights to an expansion franchise in Nashville (along with the Kats identity), but could not negotiate an arena lease with the Predators. Because Nashville Municipal Auditorium and Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym are unsuitable for arena football (Vanderbilt has a dry policy for 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 GEC for concerts and smaller sporting events. Ultimately, the Predators agreed to a deal with Adams, and in the summer of 2004, Adams announced the Kats would return to the Predators' arena in 2005.
When the Kats were revived as an expansion team in 2005, the team re-assumed all its history from the Georgia Force 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 identical to the original except for the ball, which was drawn as the lighter colored, brown-with-blue-stripe ball used in the AFL at that time, along with the colors of the logo, which were slightly modified to reflect those of the Titans.
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 franchise history. The team had struggled at the box office since its return to Nashville.
The team's mascot was a jersey-and-shorts-clad cat named Kool Kat.
- 1997–1998: Eddie Khayat, 19–9
- 1999–2001, 2005–2007 Pat Sperduto, 33–24–1
- James Baron - OL/DL
- Cornelius Bonner - WR
- Jason Bratton - FB/LB
- Darryl Hammond - WR/LB
- Ron Carpenter - WR/DB
- Jeff Russell - WR/DB
- Cory Fleming - WR/LB
- Rupert Grant - FB/LB
- Dan Alexander - FB
- Ahmad Hawkins - DS
- Tyronne Jones - WR/DB
- Andy Kelly - QB
- James Brown - QB
- Tyrone Jones - OS
- T.T. Toliver - WR/LB
- Joseph Minucci - OL/DL
- Robert Gaddy - OL/DL
- Aaron Hamilton - OL\DL
AFL Hall of FamersEdit