While I was technically alive for two separate rounds of MLB expansion, it wasn’t something I followed with any sort of dedicated interest, as it was happening. I was simply too young to really care – let alone analyze – the market and baseball implications of introducing two or more brand new teams into the league.
That said, I am now in as much of a position to do exactly that, and I’m slowly realizing how impactful such a move could be.
If you haven’t heard the rumors, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has recently hinted at a desire to expand from 30 to 32 franchises within MLB. Doing so would allow the sport to be broken up into two leagues of 16 teams with four divisions each. Tighter divisional footprints, more favorable TV ratings, and more balanced schedules are just some of the expected benefits of making such a move.
According to Manfred, baseball is at least 5-6 years away – at the very earliest – from witnessing an expansion of teams in baseball. Before that is even discussed, the upcoming CBA will have to be negotiated, and the stadium decisions of Oakland and Tampa Bay will have to be resolved. Still, this is as close to actual, real progress towards expansion that we’ve seen in quite some time.
In an article for Fox Sports, Morosi consulted with several members of the baseball community, as well as three sports business experts – Joe Favorito, sports marketing consultant and professor at Columbia University; Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Limited; and Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, renowned economist at Smith College – to determine which cities might be targeted for for MLB expansion.
The rankings are very interesting and present several unique options:
- Mexico City
- “Another site in Latin America”
In addition to the five locations suggested above, Morosi includes Charlotte and Nashville as honorable mentions. What that means is that, of seven potential locations, only three are located in the U.S. – I told you, pretty interesting.
The way Morosi puts it, “No city in North America is more prepared to welcome a Major League Baseball Franchise, right now, than Montreal.” Montreal, formerly the home of the Expos (now Washington Nationals), has a well-documented passion for professional sports, has a history of drawing fans for baseball events and has received encouraging results on a preliminary feasibility test. Moreover, a new team could use Olympic Stadium for games while a new stadium was built and, interestingly, Montreal is the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. or Canada without a Major League Baseball team.
Whenever expansion finally does happen, it is sure to impact the game in many, significant ways. When that decision gets handed down, though, we’ll discuss the implications. For now, it’s interesting enough to learn about the cities that could change the sport of baseball in the near future.