MLB expansion is coming soon, but where?

MLB expansion is coming soon, but where?

by - Senior Writer -

Expansion in professional sports isn't new, as money drives expansion. When it comes to Major League Baseball, they have gone the longest since expanding, which is hard to believe as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Rays were the last two teams added to the MLB. That came in 1998, and we are now 25 years past those days.

With the NFL adding the Houston Texans in 2002, the NBA adding the Charlotte Bobcats, now New Orleans Pelicans in 2004, the NHL adding the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kracken, and the MLS constantly expanding with San Diego FC joining the fun next year, it's time for the MLB to jump back into the mix.

After Adam Silver announced the NBA is planning to expand by two teams soon, the MLB has now countered with a similar time frame. With Rob Manfred moving on from his commissioner duties in roughly five seasons, there are several things he wants to accomplish before his days are done. One of those is adding two teams to this league, which could go into effect by 2027 at the earliest. Although it is not shocking to hear that, it is surprising it took this long, and now it shows how serious these expansion talks can get.

Some markets have been linked to getting a team in the near future, with Montreal and Charlotte being the favorites.

However, there have now been 10 cities rumored as possible expansion destinations, and all of them make sense in some way.

Montreal: When the Expos lost their team in 2004 in favor of the Washington Nationals, it was a massive blow to the MLB landscape. While the Expos tenure wasn't all sunshine and roses, especially when it comes to their stadium, they were a great franchise who had some success in the early to mid 1990s.

With Olympic Stadium getting a full remodel and refurbishment, Montreal is destined to have baseball return to Canada and will once again give the Blue Jays a rival north of the border. Montreal has the most prominent TV market outside of the US without a team, and it only makes sense that they get their team back.

Austin/San Antonio: While this may come as a shock, it isn't a surprise as everything is bigger in Texas. While Dallas (Arlington) and Houston are the big cities in Texas, you still have Austin and San Antonio longing for more professional sports.

San Antonio has the Spurs, while Austin has Austin FC. Outside of that, neither of those markets has another professional sports team to follow, so adding a baseball team to either of those cities does make sense. San Antonio is a better fit, but with Austin having a more prominent Metro Area with a more considerable revenue, they could be the favorite between the two.

Charlotte: Like Montreal, Charlotte has been linked to MLB expansion for the better part of three years and, at one point, was viewed as the favorite to get a team. The largest metro City on the Southeast corner of the country, Charlotte, has a professional sports team in four of the five major sports leagues, with baseball being the one they lack.

Considering they have an established AAA team called the Charlotte Knights and the ability to expand on that stadium to make it MLB-ready, this is a perfect match should this city continue running. The name Charlotte Aviators has been thrown around and would rival with Atlanta and some of those Southeastern teams.

Mexico City: This will be the wildest suggestion of them all and the least likely option for expansion. Sure, MLB would love to expand into more markets and countries, but Canada seems to be the only one that would work.

Mexican Winter Leagues are huge in that part of the world, and the overall quality of play has been solid. However, despite the massive market, massive metro area, and the possibility of having their own professional team, it isn't plausible that they would have the same following as a team from the lower 48 and Canada and the travel issues.

Nashville: Like Charlotte, Nashville has been one of the favorites to land an expansion team for quite some time. However, it has been the past six months where those talks have drastically intensified, as Nashville now appears to be at the top of the MLB list in terms of landing a new team.

When you look at the Metro Area, it makes a ton of sense as Nashville is in an elite location and could draw people from as far as Louisville and Charlotte to attend their games. They also have the Brewers AAA team, the Nashville Sounds, who draw well annually, proving the popularity of MLB in Nashville would work.

While it is still being determined what the team name would be should they get one, this is the 27th largest TV market in the country. That alone makes it feel like a viable option.

Orlando: Like San Antonio and Austin, Orlando is one of those cities that came out of nowhere when it comes to MLB Expansion. Another city that lacks professional sports teams, with the Orlando Magic and Orlando City SC as the lone teams in that market, that lack of overall attendance is an issue for the MLB to consider.

From a TV market size, this is the 17th largest market in the US and one of the biggest markets not to have a team. That alone should prove that Money wouldn't be an issue. However, when you look at the overall success of the Rays, their lack of attendance, and the constant horrific attendance by the Marlins, how would adding another team to Florida look?

Sure, the weather is ideal for baseball weather, especially during the summer months, as long as a retractable roof is implemented. Yet, for whatever reason, the public draw for baseball isn't there. Still, with the potential of the Walt Disney Group getting involved, Orlando now has to be a market to consider, as the name Orlando Dreamers has been thrown out.

Portland: At last, we finally get to shift to the West Coast, as a few cities out west are vying for an expansion team. Portland is one of those cities and has been right up there with Charlotte and Nashville in terms of favorites.

Listed as the 22nd largest market in the US, Portland is another city that has a limited number of professional teams, with the Portland Trailblazers and Portland Timbers as the lone options. Former Nike Executive Craig Cheek is eager to change that, as it is rumored he has purchased a large area of land to build an MLB stadium. While there is no projected team name as of now, look at MILB's success in Portland as to why this makes sense.

Salt Lake City: The most surprising city on this list is Salt Lake City. As expected, if expansion does happen, one team will be coming to the East and one team going West as Salt Lake is emerging as a serious threat. Vancouver was thrown out there for a bit, but with Montreal having a better following, they are no longer in the mix, which opens the door for Salt Lake.

Known for the Salt Lake Bees in the minors, you also have the Utah Jazz and Real Salt Lake teams as professional teams, and both of them earn a consistently large following. If there were an under-the-radar city to keep an eye on, this would be it, as Salt Lake is quietly gaining more momentum than most.

San Jose: Another city that you wouldn't expect to have expansion talks is San Jose, yet here we are. One of the largest cities in California and a top 10 TV market, San Jose has the Money to support an MLB team, but only has the San Jose Sharks as their professional following.

With the Oakland A's set to jump ship for Vegas, this could be MLB's way of keeping Oakland in California, although it would be a different market and different team. Regarding names being thrown out, San Jose Sol was mentioned, as were the Innovators, Spirit, and Bees.

Raleigh: Last but not least comes Raleigh, which is another surprising option. Considering this location is less than two hours away from the potential favorite Charlotte, seeing them on this list is interesting. However, with a top-25 TV market and the proximity to Charlotte, this would be a fallback plan to bring baseball to North Carolina should Charlotte not happen.

Although Nashville would be the top option if Charlotte doesn't land a team, Raleigh does make some sense, especially when you look at the location. Add a group called "Bring Baseball to Raleigh," and you can see the popularity growing, with the Raleigh Capitals being the top choice in names.

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