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MLB Looking to Expand

MLB Looking to expand Landy Heaton / Via Flickr



MLB Looking to Expand

Since Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred took office, he has been openly talking about expanding Major League Baseball to 32 teams.

Last year at the Baseball Writers Association of America luncheon in Cincinnati, Manfred stated that he is definitely open-minded to the idea of expanding the MLB beyond 30 teams.  The last expansion in baseball took place in 1998 when MLB added the Arizona Diamond Backs and the Tampa Bay Rays.

There are several cities names that keep popping up that the league might be considering.  Montreal, Charlotte, San Antonio, Portland, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, New Jersey, Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico all have been tossed around as possible locations.

As we look at this list there is an argument to be made for each of these places, but to start a new franchise in a city, MLB first must consider many variables to make it work.

Of all the cities that were mentioned, Montreal is probably the most practical of them all.  They maintained a MLB team for 35 years before being moved to Washington, and now have the infrastructure to support another team.  With the success of the Toronto Blue Jays team which has drawn an average of 48,000 fans over the past two seasons, Montreal may be a lock to land another team.

Mexico City, Mexico continues to be in consideration for a team as Manfred stated in an interview with CSN Chicago’s Steve Stone and Jason Benetti.  Although there is appeal to adding a team south of the border, there are still potential problems with the move.

Mexico City’s regional population is around 20 million, making it one of the largest in the world. Even so, the area is very impoverished and one has to wonder if residents have enough income to spend money attending a MLB game.

Another looming money problem is with building a stadium.  A stadium would cost at least around $500 million. Who would pay for it?

Baseball Author and historian Adrian Burgos says “you’re asking a city to finance a new, humongous stadium for a sport that’s the third or fourth most popular sport in the area.” Although Manfred is intrigued by the idea of a team in Mexico City there are some problems that may prevent it.

However, with the recent move by the PGA to move the Doral Open to Mexico City in 2017 it has opened up the ability for baseball to watch from afar. This will let baseball see how they deal with any security issues and see what the draw is from the local population on a smaller scale.

One possible positive side to this expansion idea is that baseball now has three divisions in each league, with five teams apiece. By expanding to 32 teams, they’d have to reshape each league. The league would definitely want to keep the rivalry’s within the game, which means that the Dodgers and Giants would stay together; as would the Yankees and Red Sox; and finally the Cubs and Cardinals.

This would allow them to set up 4 different divisions within each league, each having 4 teams.  It would allow each division to stay more regional and cut down on travel for MLB teams.

As of now the idea of expansion is just a whisper of what is to come for the MLB but the one thing we know is that Major League Baseball will take their time and consider every aspect of an expansion before making a move anywhere.

It still may be a while before we see this come to fruition for Commissioner Manfred.