Out of nowhere, Charlotte, N.C., has become a player for a Major League Baseball expansion franchise. Charlotte has never really been on anybody’s radar for a Major League Baseball team and in fact Charlotte’s bid to land a cheaper team, a Major League Soccer expansion franchise, is hanging by a thread. But Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has identified three areas where an expansion team or maybe even a relocated franchise could end up.
Charlotte, a banking city which may have reached corporate sports spending saturation with NASCAR, the NBA’s Hornets, the NFL’s Panthers and nearby college basketball, Montreal and Mexico City. Those are the three markets Manfred sees as possible homes for Major League Baseball franchises. Only two will get expansion teams, if Major League Baseball owners go in that direction.
But before adding teams, Manfred and his owners have to solve stadium situations in two places where either bad stadiums or bad leases exist, Oakland and the Tampa Bay market. The new Oakland ownership seems to have identified an area in the city to build a stadium but there is a long way to go from identifying an area to building a facility. The Tampa Bay ownership is trying to negotiate a deal that will allow the franchise to leave St. Petersburg prior to the end of the lease deal with the city before the 2027 expiration date.
In Montreal, the same problems that caused the Montreal Expos franchise to fail still plague baseball. A lack of a state of the art stadium and a weakened Canadian dollar. There may be a better TV deal available but can baseball get enough local Montreal corporate loonies to succeed? Mexico City is a total unknown in getting proper TV and corporate support. Charlotte has no stadium and financially is teetering on corporate sports spending saturation. Expansion is not happening soon.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.