By: Jude Bazerman
NEW YORK- With the NHL currently expanding to 32 teams and the NFL already at that mark, the MLB is soon expected to be in the market for a few new cities that expansion teams, or relocated franchises, can call home. 22 years have already passed since the last expansion teams were added into the league (Arizona and Tampa Bay) and 15 since the last relocation (Montreal Expos to Washington Nationals), meaning that the MLB is due for a shakeup. Countless North American cities have shown interest or have been brought up in conversations regarding having a team in their vicinity, however only a handful make sense for both the league and the city itself.
Charlotte, NC- With a metro population north of 2.6 million and two major sports teams already calling the city home, Charlotte may be the perfect place for the next MLB expansion team. On top of those very beneficial factors, Charlotte already has one of the best minor league baseball stadiums in the country (Truist Field) that could easily be converted into a fully functional MLB stadium if need be. The fans in Charlotte are also fantastic. In 2019, the Carolina Panthers finished 7th in attendance, even though the team had a poor season. Geographically, the city also makes sense for an MLB team. The states of Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, all of which border North Carolina, also don’t have an MLB team, meaning that the potential market for a Charlotte-based team is very large and lucrative. Lastly, weather would not be an issue for a team that calls Charlotte home, as the average high temperatures in April and October are 72℉ and 73℉, respectively.
Portland, OR- Though the events that occurred in Portland this past summer have caused the city to gain a bad reputation in the minds of some Americans, the city’s potential as a home for an MLB team is astronomical nonetheless. The Pacific Northwest of the United States has long been geographically isolated when it comes to sports. Currently, the only MLB team in “Cascadia” is the Seattle Mariners, who are located over a 13 hour car ride away from their closest MLB counterpart (The San Francisco Giants). A team in Portland would not only help close this mind boggling gap between teams, but it would also help the MLB fully tap into the Seattle/Portland market. Though Portland only has one “major four” sports team, the Portland Trail Blazers, their fans have often been described as some of the most loyal and passionate in all of basketball. The metro population of Portland slots it in at 25th for all U.S. cities, however due to the city’s geographic isolation, many potential fans in the city’s market are not accounted for in that figure.
Nashville, TN- The country music capital of the world is described as a fun, vibrant city for both tourists and residents, with many activities for people of all ages. However, an MLB team would be the cherry on top for one of America’s most loved cities. Interestingly enough, the city already has a documented history of loving the sport of baseball, as both the Triple A Nashville Sounds and the immensely successful Vanderbilt Commodores call the city home. Many believe that an MLB team in Nashville would detract from the two aftermetionted clubs’ fan bases, and vice versa, however that is nowhere near the case. The almost two million residents of the Nashville metro area would give all teams a more than suitable market to make a healthy profit. That number also doesn’t account for the thousands of people from Memphis, Knoxville, and Louisville that would take the three hour ride to attend a game and enjoy what the city has to offer. What’s more, Nashville’s two existing pro sports teams, the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and the NHL’s Nashville Predators, have gained a significant following in the city and nationwide due to their recent success, and it is reasonable to assume that the same would happen to an MLB team that calls Nashville home.
Vancouver, BC, Canada- Though Vancouver may be a surprise selection to some, an MLB team in Canada’s western paradise makes way too much sense. Just three years ago, Vancouver ranked as the best city in North America and fifth in the entire world for quality of living, and professional travel bloggers and agencies frequently dub the city as one of the world’s most beautiful. With that aside, Vancouver, much like Portland, lies in the sports deprived region of Cascadia, and its closest MLB team would be in a completely different market (and country for that matter!). Not only that, but Canada only has one MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays, who are on the complete opposite end of the country. Essentially, this leaves the 10.5 million residents of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan (Canada’s three southwestern provinces) unrepresented when it comes to professional baseball teams. The only potential downside of an MLB franchise in Vancouver is that the market has not been baseball tested yet, meaning that the level of interest is unknown.
Honorable Mentions: Austin, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Indianapolis, IN