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Before Expansion, MLB Trying to Get New Stadiums in Oakland, Tampa Bay

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Fans wear Montreal Expos uniforms as they watch the Toronto Blue Jays in a pre-season baseball game against the New York Mets Friday, March 28, 2014 in Montreal. Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Sometime near the end of March, prior to a two game pre-season series featuring the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates in Montreal, someone will bring up the possibility of Montreal getting a Major League Baseball team. After all, Commissioner Rob Manfred has opened the door to expansion sometime in the future.

Before Major League Baseball can expand, the owners need to fix two problems: Oakland and Tampa Bay.

The Oakland saga has a new twist. Long time A’s money man Lewis Wolff has been replaced and new people are trying to get an Oakland stadium built for the team. In St. Petersburg, Rays’ ownership is trying to negotiate a deal to get out of a lease that ends in 2027 so the Rays franchise can seek another stadium in the market. If those problems are solved, Major League Baseball can go ahead and expand.

Here is the criteria for expansion: Local government support, a large local cable TV deal and big corporate support. It’s pretty simple to understand as the business needs government to build the store, the TV money has to be plentiful and the businesses locally have to buy into the team.

There is a slightly different set of rules in Canada but if Montreal had a stadium and if the Canadian dollar was a bit stronger, Montreal would top of the list. The remaining American cities fall short except for San Jose, which has everything needed but that’s San Francisco Giants territory and an attempted move by Wolff A’s to San Jose was blocked. A number of smaller markets are available, Charlotte, Nashville, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Buffalo and Portland.

Vancouver has the Montreal problem so western Canada is probably out. Monterey and Mexico City might like baseball but the peso becomes a problem. Major League Baseball does not have a good selection of possibly expansion cities.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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