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MLB Expansion: Top 6 Candidates

Joe HalversonCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2017

MLB Expansion: Top 6 Candidates

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    Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf caused quite a stir last week when he suggested that he would prefer that MLB contract two teams rather than expanding, according to ESPN.

    It remains a mystery as to why Reinsdorf would bother saying something like this. Nobody believes that contraction is actually on the table, and there are plenty of doubts about whether or not the threats back in 2002 were all that serious.

    With that said, Reinsdorf is also wrong to suggest that MLB should not be looking to expand. Considering the fact that MLB is in a period of record revenue and unprecedented labor peace, this would seem to be the perfect time to expand. 

    At most, two additional teams would further strengthen baseball’s brand both domestically and internationally. At the very least, two new teams would eliminate the scheduling headaches that will be created by the Houston Astros’ impending move to the American League.

    So what cities could realistically be candidates for MLB expansion?

Cities That Just Missed the Cut

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    Salt Lake City 

    They have done well in supporting an NBA franchise, but the city would still be the smallest marketplace in MLB. 

     

    Oklahoma City 

    See: Salt Lake City.

     

    Orlando 

    This is the largest city not on the list, but fans in the state of Florida have enough trouble supporting the Marlins and Rays.

     

    Las Vegas 

    While Vegas is currently the largest metro area without a pro sports team, the city’s historic reliance on gambling revenue is a major red flag for expansion in any sport.

     

    Norfolk 

    It's a larger metro area than Milwaukee and historically a terrific source of MLB prospects, but the city has very little track record when it comes to professional sports.

     

    Austin 

    The capital of the Lone Star State ranks right behind Las Vegas as the biggest city without a pro sports team, and its emerging tech sector has helped make the city flush with disposable income. A definite sleeper pick.

Charlotte

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    Current home of the White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate, Charlotte would rank as the second-smallest city in the majors if it was awarded a franchise, but it is also one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. 

    Home to one of the country’s largest banking sectors, Charlotte is also a city with plenty of disposable income and potential corporate partners. 

    With October temperatures hovering between 50 and 70 degrees, it is unlikely that baseball would have to worry about World Series games in Charlotte being interrupted by snow.

New York/Northern New Jersey

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    This will never happen due to what would likely be serious issues with territorial rights, but a third team in the Big Apple would be the easiest way to combat the massive revenue advantage that the Yankees (and to a lesser extent, the Mets) currently enjoy over the rest of baseball. 

    It is also by far the most proven baseball market, and it is hard to make an argument that the city cannot support three teams when it did just that from 1901 to 1957. The city has only gotten bigger and wealthier since. 

    A new team in Brooklyn would be ideal (and a little poetic), but the time might be right to see if East Rutherford (which just lost the NBA’s Nets) or Newark is interested in the big leagues.

Portland

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    It is rather surprising that Portland does not receive more consideration for pro sports expansion, considering that it is not only the largest metro area in the United States without a baseball team but also the largest with only one major pro sports franchise. 

    The NBA’s Trail Blazers have thrived in the city for more than four decades, and strong support for the Timbers of MLS indicates that the city’s residents are more than willing to support another team. 

    A team in Portland would also mean that the Seattle Mariners would not be on such an island compared to the rest of baseball. 

    Local corporations like Intel and Nike would fit in perfectly as sponsors.

Sacramento

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    Mayor Kevin Johnson has already expressed interest in luring a pro baseball team, and I have already made the case that the Oakland A’s are the most logical candidate to make a move. 

    But Sacramento makes all sorts of sense as a future MLB city even if the A’s decide to pass. 

    The metro area is larger than four current MLB markets, and the likely departure of the NBA’s Kings would leave the city as the largest in the United States without a pro sports franchise. 

    Unlike nearby San Jose, there are no territorial rights issues that would arise with a team being put in Sac-Town.

San Antonio

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    Every metro area in Texas is growing rapidly, and San Antonio is no exception. 

    The longtime home to the San Antonio Missions of the Texas League is larger than four current MLB markets and would give baseball a strong presence in all three cities of the famed Texas Triangle.  

    San Antonio also has a strong military presence, and a major league team would only help to reinforce the game’s strong patriotic heritage. 

    It is also a market with relatively little competition from other pro leagues, as the NBA’s Spurs are the only other game in town. 

Vancouver

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    The third-largest metro area in Canada is also the second largest on this list. 

    It is also one of the wealthiest cities in Canada and consistently ranks near the top of the list of international cities with the highest standard of living. 

    Vancouver’s biggest advantage, however, is that the city has shown that it knows what it is doing when it comes to facilities. 

    BC Place, which was renovated for the 2010 Winter Olympics, is regarded as one of the finest stadiums in both the CFL and MLS. 

    Like Portland, this is another city that would give Seattle a natural regional rival in either the AL West or in interleague play.

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