Predicting the Next 4 MLB Teams to Get New Ballparks

John Altamura@@JohnAltamuraBRContributor IINovember 22, 2012

Predicting the Next 4 MLB Teams to Get New Ballparks

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    Who is next in line to get a new ballpark?

    There have been several new ballparks opened in the past few years. The New York Yankees opened up their new $1.5 billion incarnation of Yankee Stadium in 2009. Last season, the Miami Marlins opened up their 37,772 seat stadium on the grounds of the old Orange Bowl.

    Could the Cubs finally move from the friendly confines? Will the Los Angeles Dodgers decide to leave Chavez Ravine for another location in the Los Angeles area? Will the Tampa Bay Rays ever vacate their dank and depressing ballpark for a modern facility?

    Here are four teams who are in line for a new ballpark.

Tampa Bay Rays: Tropicana Field

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    The Tampa Bay Rays are in dire need of replacing their ballpark.

    Tampa has been playing in the dank and decrepit Tropicana Field since the team’s inaugural season in 1998. The unfriendly confines at the Trop have not helped attract fans as the Rays finished dead last in attendance (approx. 1.5 million) in 2012.

    A report in the Tampa Bay Business Journal earlier this month said that Hillsborough and Pinellas counties could raise $350 million toward a new stadium without having to raise taxes. This money will become available once debt from the Trop and other obligations become satisfied, according to the report. The report also stated that the money will no longer be available after Oct. 2018 if a new stadium deal is not put in the place.

    Will the Rays get a new ballpark before their stadium lease expires in 2027?

    The report in the Tampa Bay Business Journal was a promising development for proponents of the new ballpark. The real question now is whether or not financing would be approved by lawmakers after what just happened in South Florida with the Miami Marlins. Ken Rosenthal reported that the Rays may have a hard time securing the public money needed to finance a new ballpark in the light of the Marlins subsequent fire sale.

    Why should the Rays be punished for the actions of Jeffrey Loria and company?

    I think legislators will be able to see the difference between the Rays and Marlins ownership groups. The Rays have still attempted to put a winning product on the field despite low attendance numbers. The Marlins have a history of “fire sales” dating back to their first world championship in 1997.  

    My guess is that new stadium funding will eventually be approved and the Rays will be playing in a new retractable roof stadium sometime before 2020.

Oakland A’s: Coliseum

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    Another team that needs a new ballpark is the Oakland A’s. The A’s currently share their stadium with the NFL Oakland Raiders. They are the only MLB team who shares their venue with a NFL team on a full-time basis.

    The Coliseum, more commonly known as the Oakland Coliseum, has been the home of the A’s since they relocated from Kansas City after the 1967 season. The stadium went through a significant renovation in 1996 when 10,000 seats were added to accommodate the return of the Raiders from their decade-and-a-half stint in Los Angeles.

    The problem with the stadium is the fact that it isn’t really suited for baseball. The large foul area has always been a point of contention for critics of the stadium. The behemoth outfield seating addition, also mockingly called “Mount Davis,” has further added to the unattractiveness of the stadium.

    So, any chance the A’s will be moving from Oakland anytime soon?

    There have been many rumors over the years that the A’s would move to Fremont or possibly to San Jose. The Fremont plan ultimately fell through, and as of late October Commissioner Bud Selig said that there is no timetable on whether or not the A’s will be allowed to pursue stadium options in San Jose. A move to San Jose would have to clear a major hurdle as the territory rights are held by the world champion San Francisco Giants.

    A move would either have to be approved by the Giants or ratified by ownership vote. Seventy-five percent of the owners would have to approve the move to San Jose for ratification to pass.

    The A’s will eventually get a new ballpark, but not for at least another decade.

Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field

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    Will the friendly confines get a facelift anytime soon?

    There is a chance, as Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and company have been mulling over plans to renovate the 98-year-old ballpark.

    Ricketts recently told that they are taking the renovation plans one step at a time. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig also said that he will be willing to help the Cubs if the need arises.   

    Why should the Cubs leave Wrigley behind?

    Well, there are a couple of reasons, with the most obvious one that they have not won a World Series championship during their tenure at the ballpark. Also, from a purely functional viewpoint, the Cubs have outgrown Wrigley as they are in need for a ballpark with modern amenities.

    Rich Cohen of the Wall Street Journal also made a case for why "Wrigley Must Be Destroyed," saying that tearing down the ballpark will be only way to cure years upon years of ineptitude.

    Where will the Cubs go?

    The short answer is nowhere! There were some unsuccessful discussions years ago about the Cubs moving to the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. They also may relocate to Miller Park in Milwaukee or US Cellular Field on the South Side of Chicago temporarily if wholesale renovations take place.

    Minor renovations have already been taking place over the past few offseasons as the Ricketts have added several small cosmetic changes to the stadium, such as upgraded bathrooms and a new party deck in the old right field bleachers.

    If the Cubs do get a new ballpark it probably will be on their current site of 1060 West Addison. Don't expect wholesale changes to take place, though, for at least another couple of years.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Dodger Stadium

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers have called Chavez Ravine home for more than 50 years. It was born out of the vision of former owner Walter O’Malley, who chose the accessible site when he failed to come to a new stadium agreement with power broker Robert Moses and the city of New York.

    Dodger Stadium now stands as the third-oldest ballpark remaining in the majors behind Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. There have already been some minor renovations made to the park in recent years as former owner Frank McCourt tore out old stadium seating in 2005.

    Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times addressed the question of the future of Dodger Stadium. Chief Executive Stan Kasten told the Times that the Dodgers have an aggressive offseason plan to tackle the stadium's most pressing needs.

    Will the Dodgers bolt from Chavez Ravine?

    The short answer is no! They will most likely go through a slow renovation process with the stadium bringing it up to 21st-century standards.