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The Nashville Kats is the name of three separate franchises in the Arena Football League all located in Nashville, Tennessee. The original incarnation of the Kats launched in 1997. Coached by Pat Sperduto, who led that team to two ArenaBowl appearances prior to their move to Atlanta in 2002, then becoming the original Georgia Force. The second incarnation of the Kats joined the league as an expansion team in 2005, also coached by Sperduto, and lasted two seasons before ceasing to play in 2007. The third incarnation of the team will play at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville as part of the 2024 relaunch of the Arena Football League.

Original Nashville Kats (1997–2001)

The team began as the Nashville Kats in 1997. The franchise was that of charter Arena team the Denver Dynamite, which had not played since 1991. 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 a tabby cat 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, with the assistance of future Washington Football Team coach Jay Gruden as offensive co-ordinator in his first-ever coaching position. Gruden then returned to active play with the Orlando Predators and assistant to his brother Jon, then head coach of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which played in the AFL off-season. Khayat was succeeded as Kats' head coach 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 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..

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 business man, for $12 million, establishing a new franchise sales records for the AFL at the time.

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 many 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 Public Address Announcer for the Nashville Kats, Chip Hoback, went on to announce the Georgia Force games at the Gwinnett Center.

The Expansion Nashville Kats (2001–2005)

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 along with the Kats identity. Adams explored the idea of building his own mid-size arena 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)

The second incarnation of the Nashville Kats began play in 2005 and reclaimed the history of the original Kats from the Georgia Force. 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. Sperduto also returned as head coach.

On October 10, 2007, after months of speculation, owner Bud Adams decided to shut down operations. 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 Nashville.

2024 revival

On November 1, 2023, the revival of the Arena Football League (AFL) announced the highly anticipated return of the Nashville Kats for the 2024 season. The team’s ownership group is led by: sports and entertainment attorneys Tamara Dadd Alan, CEO, and Nancy D. Eckert, COO/House Counsel; Jeff Fisher, former Titans and Rams head coach, as President of Football Operations; and Nashville sports communications veteran and Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer, Greg Pogue, who will also serve as VP of Communications.

The team’s ownership group, Nashville Arena Sports, LLC, acquired the trademark for the franchise to be called the Nashville Kats, a nod to its groundbreaking run with the original AFL. The ownership group felt the importance of having the Nashville Kats brand was key to the franchise’s success as they take ownership of the amazing legacy already established and the opportunity to build upon it.

A new logo was introduced; however, the team will use the vintage logo as an alternate logo to acknowledge and embrace the existing Kats fans while growing new ones. Kool Kat will make a return as the team’ mascot.

The Nashville Kats will play home games at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville, with one game at F&M Bank Arena in Clarksville on Armed Forces Day.