On Wednesday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he would love to expand the league to 32 teams, meaning the league, whether officially or unofficially, is looking for new markets for new franchises. The last time MLB expanded the league, Phoenix and Tampa Bay were awarded franchises in the 1998 season. So if baseball is looking for new homes, what cities make the most sense to become the next baseball town?
Here are 5 cities in desperate need of a new Major League franchise.
The first city on this list isn’t a surprise to anyone. For decades major sports leagues avoided Las Vegas, Nevada, due to its connection to gambling. However, those fears are no longer relevant and Vegas is looking to become the new sports hub in America.
After gaining the Golden Knights in the NHL in 2016 and then having the Raiders move to Vegas in 2020, Vegas wants one more franchise to become the sports and betting Mecca. Rumors have swirled for months that if the Oakland Athletics cannot agree to a deal for a new stadium in California, that Vegas would be their next best spot.
If Vegas can agree to build an indoor stadium specifically for baseball, the MLB is almost certainly going to award them a franchise, but they aren’t the only city that has peaked a lot of interest…
The Southeast of the United States is Braves country. This is due to the fact that they are largely the only team in the region. One city that want to change that status is Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville has blown up in popularity over the last couple of years as its lower cost of the living, rich music scene, and growing sports hub has made it a key destination, especially for younger working professionals.
Nashville is currently home to the Titans, The Predators, and Nashville SC which was just given it’s own brand new soccer stadium, Geodis Park, which can hold up to 30,000 visitors for each game. Just like Vegas, Nashville would have to come up with the funds for a new stadium for baseball but if they could get a deal together, they would rival the Atlanta Braves for summer baseball in the region. The next city on our list has a rich history in baseball and they would love to see their team return.
The Montreal Expos enjoyed 35 years in the French Providence north of the border in Canada. After 1994 ravished the team and arguably cost them a world series, the franchise never recovered and in 2004, the team relocated to Washington D.C. to become the Washington Nationals, who would eventually win the World Series in 2019.
The passion for baseball in Montreal hasn’t died down, as many are still waiting for a return of their original home team. In 2014, a preseason series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets drew over 96,350 visitors. A year later the Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds drew another 96,000 for a two-game series. The thirst for baseball is real in Quebec, they just need a franchise to support it. An MLB expansion that brings the Expos back to Montreal would be the biggest story in Canada since the return of the Winnipeg Jets. But they aren’t the only Canadian team that could use an expansion though…
Let’s say the Oakland A’s move from the city, but they want to keep a team on the west coast. Let’s think outside the box and go with the city of Vancouver.
Vancouver, Canada, may seem like a long shot but its important to note that none of the so-called frontrunners have a stadium to compete in as of this writing. Vancouver is the 2nd largest city in either the US and Canada without a team. It is believed that the city has the passion to support a team against rival Northwest locations such as Seattle and Portland. Vancouver is certainly a sports-starved city; the Grizzles left the city in 2001 for Memphis after only six seasons in Canada.
The key issue for the city would be funding and backing for a new stadium, but you can’t ignore the fact that nearly 3/4ths of the city would welcome an MLB franchise if one moved there.
Speaking of a Southeast city in need of a baseball franchise, Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of just three cities in the U.S. that has an NFL team and an NBA team but no MLB team. Charlotte is in fact on the shortlist for MLB expansion as the city has a long history with baseball. The population of the city has also grown significantly making it a more attractive market for franchises and advertisers.
The Queen City tried to relocate the Minnesota Twins to Charlotte in the 1990s but those efforts failed. The good news for the city is that they don’t have another franchise to compete in the region outside ones already there. The city has a strong market for minor league baseball and it seems like a major league team would be a no-brainer.