Baseball's expansion to 32 teams?

So apparently this is going to happen and getting to 32 teams is not the worst thing as it simplifies the leagues at least.

Thankfully this will not happen too soon as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred insists the league will not expand until the Rays and A’s have new stadiums.

**Montreal **gets brought up often but with the caveat of they would need to build a new stadium first. Even if Montreal wanted to spend the money, would a team in Montreal draw enough to be worth it? Are there better choices in Canada?

Others I’ve seen:
**Portland **(could happen)
Las Vegas (won’t happen as gambling)
NY Metro Area North Jersey or NYC: (Yanks & Mets will block)
Charlotte (could happen, 2 pro teams already)
Mexico City (I’m doubtful but they will probably play some games here by 2019)
San Antonio: (Good size population but I haven’t heard much interest)
San Juan, PR: (They would love it, some Major league games already played here, but the Island is bankrupt and some major private interests would have to build the stadium with no government help)
Vancouver: Is the 3rd largest Metro-area in Canada, I think far enough outside of Seattle’s range.
Havana: (Not ready yet, but love baseball)

What do you think sports fans?

Is it a given that they’d keep the Rays in Tampa? Their attendance is abysmal even when they’re in the playoffs.
With NHL and NFL teams going to Vegas, I think the gambling issue is not such a big concern anymore.

Tampa is not a lock at all, more specifically I think they would rather get out of St. Pete at least. Tampa may have worked if the stadium was actually in Tampa or a more accessible location just outside of Tampa and the Stadium was better designed. The St Pete location is particularly poor.

I think MLB is different on the Gambling issue. The Blacksox issue is nearly 100 years old and still a huge thing to the game. I would really doubt Vegas.

Baseball should expand to 40 teams, in my opinion. Not all at once, but more teams, more baseball. Yes please.

The key thing is a stadium. A modern, proper stadium isn’t everything, but it’s the first thing. The Expos’ demise was, first and foremost, because they played in an unspeakably horrible stadium (you really had to go there to understand how awful it was) and if Montreal had a nice stadium they would do fine.

Currently, US/Canada North American metro areas with no MLB, by population:

  1. Montreal, 4.1 million
  2. Charlotte, 2.5 million
  3. Vancouver, 2.4 million
  4. Orlando, 2.4 million
  5. San Antonio, 2.4 million
  6. Portland, 2.4 million
  7. Sacramento, 2.3 million
  8. San Juan, 2.3 million
  9. Las Vegas, 2.1 million
  10. Austin, 2.0 million
  11. Columbus (OH), 2.0 million
  12. Indianapolis, 2.0 million

Incidentally, the smallest market WITH an MLB team is Milwaukee, at about 1.6 million by metro population; that is very small by MLB standards. KC and Cincinnati are next up at just over 2.1 million.

So if one goes by population the logical places to go are Montreal and Charlotte, and to be honest if you had solid ownership and a good stadium the only real argument against them is that you’re loading up the East, and divisions have to be changed where some teams are gonna get stuck somewhere they don’t like. Neither team significantly detracts from any other market (the Toronto Blue Jays are less popular in Quebec than in any other part of Canada, and Charlotte is reasonably far from Atlanta.) Montreal is well above the level needed to sustain MLB, and Charlotte, while not well above, looks big enough.

But it all comes down to whether you have a deep pocketed owner who can get an MLB stadium built. If you don’t have those conditions in Montreal, it would not be a solid market no matter of 4 million or 44 million people live there. If you have a well heeled owner who can get a really awesome stadium built in, say, Austin, Vancouver, or San Antionio, that could be a very successful market. We are seeing a repeat of the Montreal situation in Tampa; it is difficult to overstate how much a handicap that stadium is. It’s not AS bad as Stade Olympique was, but nothing could be, and from most points in Tampa it’s about as easy to get to as the Moon.

One also has to consider the addition of teams to New York and Los Angeles. To give you some idea of scale, LA’s Inland Empire - the area from about Ontario to Beaumont - has more people than all of Montreal, and is as far from Los Angeles or Anaheim as those teams are from each other. It isn’t the wealthiest place in America but four million people in a climate that nice… you have to think a baseball team could take a run at it there as easily as they could Vancouver. We could also discuss Brooklyn, Manhattan, or the New York-facing part of New Jersey, if you can find a place to put a stadium, for the same reasons - NYC may have two teams, but the metro area has more than twenty million people in it. Again, though, is there an owner with a stadium plan?

The disadvantages there are that while you might get lots of fans willing to buy tickets with relatively little negative impact on the Yankees/Mets/Dodgers/Angels, you are not growing the game from a regional perspective. It’s the same media markets, rather than giving people in North Carolina or British Columbia a shot at some regional pride and attention.

I would not put a 3rd team in either LA or NY market. Just feels too unbalanced. If I were picking 2 cities, it would probably be Montreal and Charlotte. If it were Montreal, could they call the team the Expos?

Norfolk / Virginia Beach together is about 1.7 million, but the area also draws a ton of tourists in the summer (i.e., during much of the baseball season). It’s probably too dowdy and out of the way to be considered, but the area has no pro sports at all, and I have to imagine that there would be a lot of enthusiasm to join the big leagues.

I’d probably pull for Charlotte and San Antonio for the geographic distribution and to avoid the inevitable ‘can Montreal support a team’ stories. Regardless of population, there’ll be some PR needed if Montreal is considered.

The Brewers, like the Packers, could likely make the case that they’re Wisconsin’s team, not just the Milwaukee metro area. I grew up in Green Bay, and I’ve been pretty much a lifelong Brewers fan.

OTOH, the Brewers have a lot more home games for which they need to sell tickets, and while they’re undoubtedly getting fans from Green Bay, the Fox Valley, Madison, etc., to attend a game or two a season, I’d wager that the vast majority of their attendance is coming from the Milwaukee area.

They’ve been doing OK on attendance for the past decade or so, averaging around 2.5 million, but I imagine that their TV contract isn’t terribly lucrative (by MLB standards). For most of the past 30 years, the team hasn’t been terribly competitive, facing the same general issues that the other small-market teams (KC, Pittsburgh) do. Their owner, Mark Attanasio, isn’t from Milwaukee (though he seems to have done a fair amount to invest in the city), and I suppose that I wouldn’t be too surprised if the Brewers were to relocate at some point.

If Havana is a possibility, why not Santo Domingo? The Dominican Republic is pretty big on baseball.


The issue, I think, with either of those cities / countries, is that there are four economic engines which drive the revenue of a MLB team (note, these are likely not in order of size):

  1. MLB’s TV and media contracts
  2. The individual team’s media contracts (TV, radio, online)
  3. Gate revenue
  4. Merchandise sales

Income levels in Cuba and the Dominican Republic are so much lower than in the U.S., that even a team with incredibly strong local fan support in those countries is likely to be at a severe disadvantage on points 2-4, compared to teams in the U.S. and Canada.

MLB already has a fairly serious problem with the disparity in team income between the big-market and small-market teams. Imagine a team that makes a Milwaukee or Kansas City look like a big-market team, income-wise, and that’s what I’d be afraid a Havana or Santo Domingo team would be like.

I think Charlotte is the most logical and most likely. Nashville would be my second bet, then Portland. Every other place has issues.

Montreal still has to overcome the disastrous experience of the Expos.

Dallas and Houston have done a good job of blocking San Antonio’s efforts to get an NFL franchise. I doubt if the Rangers and Astros owners are any more eager to give up territory.

Las Vegas won’t see a franchise before Peter Rose goes into the Hall of Fame.

Columbus and Buffalo have both made efforts to get a franchise but I don’t see any way around the territorial issues.

If I had to pick a foreign market, my first choice would be Mexico City.

Major League Baseball has to fix the lack of attendance at certain clubs before it really can condone expansion. Not only are there seven teams averaging less than 25,000 this season, there are teams like Baltimore, which just barely managed 50% of stadium capacity. It seems to me that Tampa for certain has to move, and probably Florida/Miami as well.

As for Charlotte getting an MLB team, the issue of a stadium is quite problematic. They just built a AAA stadium downtown for the Charlotte Knights, but the footprint is much too small for an MLB stadium, and trying to get the voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (city/county gov) to spring for a brand new MLB stadium after JUST springing for a AAA stadium (and refusing to spring for an MLS stadium) is fraught with difficulty.

Marlins Park just opened in 2012 and the Marlins are locked in for another 30 years. What impetuous would they have to move? It would cost them millions of dollars.

Nothing you said is not accurate except for maybe the Miami part, lets revisit that one in 5 years of new ownership. But baseball is planning to expand to 32 teams and it appears it will happen within 10 years.

I’m not huge on expansion, I liked 24 teams fine. I would not mind regressing to that but it will not happen. The 2 additional teams are going to happen, so just wanted a discussion of best locations, also encouraging a solution to the Rays & A’s.

I’m suspicious that Montreal is not viable.

While we’re at it, when the teams add, does baseball do a major realignment? Do we lose the concept of NL/AL and go regional? Would that be good or bad?

I’m a traditionalist, so I prefer keeping the NL/AL and even doing away with Interleague, but I also see the arguments for going regional.

There was a time, fifteen years ago, when MLB was actually considering contraction. It was before the Expos moved to Washington, and that was one of the two teams which was targeted for elimination; there were apparently several other teams which were also under consideration for elimination, most likely the Twins or Marlins, as MLB was considering getting rid of two teams.

However, this turned out to be an idea without much support, and, IIRC, it was scrapped fairly quickly. A few stories from that time:

This was right around the time of the Bush recession and Major League Soccer had just contracted their two Florida franchises. I attended a MLS game for the Miami team, they played in a stadium that usually hosted high school football and marching band competitions, not exactly what you’d expect for any professional team.

Fan base is more than metro-area population - IOW you won’t see a team in Columbus as long as Cincinnati and Cleveland have theirs, because the new team wouldn’t be able to draw from them. Likewise you won’t ever see teams in both TB and Orlando, and probably not Vancouver and Seattle, or Toronto and Buffalo.

Any expansion discussion has to be predicated as well on dealing with existing bad-park problems, meaning TB and Oakland. Let the Rays get a park near I-4 on the edge of Ybor City, so they can draw more fans from Tampa and Orlando, and let the A’s move to Sacramento or Las Vegas along with the Raiders. Then add teams in unserved regions, not metro areas, avoid all the mess of lower-income foreign cities that won’t buy enough logo apparel, and you see Charlotte and Portland as promising. Montreal is just not getting a team again in the lifetime of anyone here. They won’t even try it with an AAA team.

I don’t see any mention in the posts above of Nashville or Memphis, even though each of the other three major American sports leagues have a team in Tennessee. Both of those cities have a long history in high-level minor league baseball and I’m pretty sure would be solid fan bases.

Psst. Post #12, although Nashville was my second choice.