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:
- Montreal, 4.1 million
- Charlotte, 2.5 million
- Vancouver, 2.4 million
- Orlando, 2.4 million
- San Antonio, 2.4 million
- Portland, 2.4 million
- Sacramento, 2.3 million
- San Juan, 2.3 million
- Las Vegas, 2.1 million
- Austin, 2.0 million
- Columbus (OH), 2.0 million
- 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.