Five Cities MLB Should Consider for an Expansion Team
Momentum is building for an MLB expansion, with groups from Nashville, Portland, and other major cities joining in on the fun.
Major League Baseball has been at 30 teams since 1998, when the Diamondbacks and the Rays (then the Devil Rays) played their first season.
The product of Major League Baseball is growing right now with increased international interest as a result of the World Baseball Classic and increased excitement brought about by the new rule changes.
It now seems like there’s a growing movement to add more teams to the league, as multiple cities are putting together groups with the intention of creating a new team in their city. A group out of Salt Lake City, led by Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller, has recently joined in on the expansion sweepstakes.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas feels like an option for the Oakland Athletics to relocate if they decide to go in that direction. Groups in other cities have put together the pieces to attempt to get a team in their city as well over the past few years.
This all had me thinking that it was an appropriate time to look into which cities could be a fit for an MLB team in the coming years if the league decides to expand to 32 (or potentially even 34) teams in the near future.
For the sake of this article, I’m not going to include Salt Lake City, as it has been the primary possibility discussed in the media this past week. Las Vegas will also be excluded as it seems more likely to be the home of a relocation than an expansion. Otherwise, any city in the country (and some that are not!) is fair game for this list. Let’s get into it and look at cities where a Major League Baseball franchise could thrive.
We’ll start off with another city that already has a group working on a plan for an expansion. The Portland Diamond Project group has started plans and a proposal for a possible team in Portland, Oregon.
This city makes so much sense if the league opts to add another team in the Pacific Northwest. The instant rivalry with Seattle, the beautiful scenery, and the sports community led to the success of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers. Furthermore, not only would Portland have the entire market of Oregon, but those living in other nearby states without teams close by could quickly become fans of Portland’s baseball team. Baseball in Portland just makes sense.
The fans in Portland are known to be loyal, and the market is certainly big enough to support two primary professional sports teams. The city could easily fit a stadium and help to grow the game of baseball.
Portland Diamond Project has even developed plans for the potential stadium in the urban part of Portland.
This city makes so much sense and appears to be one of the leading candidates for an expansion team at this stage.
Imagine heading to Nashville for a weekend of music, baseball, and having a blast. That sounds awesome.
Another city with a group already in place, Nashville seems like the exact type of city that could support the new wave and generation of baseball. The city is known for fun and music, which would only help the brand of their potential baseball team.
Much like Las Vegas, this could become a popular destination for people in the Midwest or South as a weekend trip where they could also catch a baseball game.
Furthermore, the rich history of the Nashville Stars, a Negro League team, supports the potential success of a franchise. The Music City Baseball group is pushing for the possibility of the Nashville Stars becoming the next team to join the league, as they’ve established plans for a potential stadium and franchise that could be ready to go by 2027.
This team would instantly become one of the most historically rooted teams in the league while being in a city made for excitement.
If Major League Baseball decides to add another team in the Southern region of the country, it’s hard to find a better option than Nashville, Tennessee.
The Expos! For those unfamiliar with this situation, the Washington Nationals used to be the Montreal Expos prior to the 2005 season when they moved to Washington, D.C. and changed their name.
It’s safe to say that Montreal has been missing baseball since then. In terms of emotional connection and engagement, there may not be a better option for an expansion team than Montreal.
The city would welcome a team with open arms, and the second-biggest city in Canada definitely has the market to support a team. Montreal is very successful in the realm of hockey, as the Canadiens have led the NHL in attendance for years. This city loves sports and would gladly take a second chance at having a baseball team.
The competition between Toronto and Montreal would be excellent for the sport, and the location of Montreal would provide another place for baseball fans in the Northeast region of the country to watch games.
Canada has grown in the baseball world since the Expos moved, as the sport has grown astronomically over the past nearly 20 years. Freddie Freedman leads a group of Canadian MLB talent playing right now that has seriously sparked the interest of fans in Canada. The game would only continue to grow with a second team in the country.
One of the few cities that currently has both a professional basketball and football team appears to be more than capable of having a baseball team as well. There are plenty of good reasons to bring baseball to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Despite their mediocre performances in recent years, both the Panthers (NFL) and Hornets (NBA) have passionate fanbases that have continued to allow the teams to succeed in the market.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, the Charlotte Knights, is one of the most successful minor league teams, and the location of their stadium could be a great option for an expansion.
With sports already well established in the city, the sponsorship and business possibilities are clear, with the fan market being stable as well. The city itself has grown in the business sector over the past few years and would gladly welcome another team.
The ability to play at the Panthers’ stadium is another incentivizing scenario.
Sports are huge in Charlotte, and given the proven success of baseball in the city at the minor league level, this thriving city is a great option.
This last one is definitely the trickiest and most complicated option, but it could reap massive benefits for Major League Baseball and the entire future of the sport.
The popularity of baseball within Central and South America is well noted, as tons of the stars in the league these days hail from south of the United States border. Over 25% of players in the league are Hispanic, and this number could easily continue to rise. Expanding beyond the United States and Canada could bring the popularity of baseball to another level in the coming years.
Mexico City is the largest city in North America, with a higher population than New York City. The market is legitimately the biggest possible one, and it is even larger due to the great number of people from other cities and countries that would gravitate to Mexico City for the sake of Major League Baseball games. The potential stadium could seriously be filled every single day.
There are definitely some complications, such as the distance of traveling to Mexico City and the legal issues with having a team in Mexico, but the idea is tantalizing, to say the least. There will be a Mexico Series played this season between the Padres and Astros in Mexico City, and that could be just the start of a movement toward Major League Baseball in Mexico coming sooner than later.
This possibility is probably the most fun, as the game would elevate to another level on the international stage. While much less likely than the others mentioned in this piece, it was simply too exciting not to include.