Baseball has had to evolve over the years in order to survive. It’s seen hits such as the World Wars as well as how breaking the color barrier shifted things up. The arrival of television changed things as fans didn’t have to go to the parks to enjoy their favorite teams and spread it out to the rest of the country. That led to a push for expansion, causing the changes of additional divisions, wild card playoffs and more. It’s also led to MLB expanding from only a handful of teams to 30 and yet still talk of more in the future. It may be a bit off but there are cities who want a team to boost themselves despite the risks. It’s no secret expansion teams have to struggle to reach a serious level and even a team that’s been in a location for a long time can see their attendance slide with bad teams for a long period.
It’s tricky to figure out the right city as shown by past bids. It has to be a place where baseball is highly popular and has the right conditions to create a stadium to back up their bid. Some cities are better off than others although it’s more surprising that the south haven’t gone for baseball teams considering the sport’s popularity. Some cities are better off supporting it than others due to economics, weather, tourism and other touches. While non-North American cities don't appear to be fits, that still leaves plenty of cities, large and small, that can benefit from a major league team and a fanbase that could sustain that popularity. Here are 15 places that can use an expansion team and prove the future MLB can still grow wide.
Yes, the intro said North America but this does at least merit a discussion. The issue of course, is that the entire state’s population is only a million and a half people and some residents may not be pleased about the construction of a baseball stadium amid paradise. There’s also the issues of the long travel from the continental U.S. to the islands which can be up to 10 hours or more for East Coast teams. Still, the tourist base can be a help and players would no doubt enjoy the climate and maybe a chance to relax afterward at the beaches while the state is long overdue for a pro team of some sort and thus the possibility of it as a baseball center remains.
14 Las Vegas
The key issue here is the weather as the Nevada desert in the middle of the summer is known for heat waves that are literally killer. Thus, an indoor stadium or at least a retractable roof might be the best bet but Vegas remains a major draw. The tourism is a key factor as the town loves sports in various ways and a baseball team would fit right in as the city has been trying to get a sports franchise of some sort for years. There is the worry about gambling being legal in Nevada and thus MLB wary of getting into that as well as the obvious issues of having ballplayers running about the Sin City night life. Despite all that, a franchise in Vegas would be a good addition to an already hot town and show not everything that happens there stays there.
An obvious choice as many older Brooklynites have never forgotten the Dodgers and have talked for years of a possible replacement. There’s issues of how the Yankees and Mets would have to do some legal waivers to allow a team in Brooklyn but the idea of an area with a population of over 2 million not boasting its own team seems pretty ridiculous. You can imagine the revival of the ancient Brooklyn-Yankees rivalry, maybe even building a stadium near the site of the old Ebbets Field and just the idea of a ball team back in Brooklyn will lead to major success out of the gate.
They can’t be the Dodgers but many a Brooklyn native will leap at the chance to root for baseball in their home again and makes this an easy slot for this list.
There’s been a push for several years to get Portland their own team as they were home for several years to the Beavers, a minor league team now in Texas. Providence Park is a good stadium just waiting for a bit of refurbishment and can showcase a strong expansion team for baseball. You can imagine the Portland fandom welcoming a rivalry with the Seattle Mariners to boost the long battle between the two cities and the temperate climate can be a welcome change in the summer. It can also give Portland a much needed boost in public perception from a laid-back town to one as rabid in its fanbase as anyone else and another good addition on the West Coast.
As one of the largest cities in Canada, the city offers a good location and weather for the summer, a rich base and while hockey may be Canada’s sport, the nation loves baseball as well. The minor league Canadians play there and some have speculated on the possibility of the massive BC Place adapted for baseball. The city could provide a new stadium to stand with the best of anything in the States and travel issues shouldn’t be any more of a hassle then going to Toronto. It can provide the Great White North with another team they’ve wanted for a while and with 2.4 million inhabitants in the greater area, there should be plenty of support to make a Canadian MLB franchise wildly successful.
10 New Orleans
The city has rebounded wonderfully in the decade since Katrina, back in shape in most ways and success with the Saints as Super Bowl champions and the Pelicans even pushing in the NBA. Adding a baseball team can be only natural and while some may complain about the muggy Louisiana summers, there’s a good chance they can get support from the demographics of the city. There can be issues with the cost of building a new stadium (the city is still having complaints of not repairing all the damage of Katrina) but the long-term benefit of MLB teams coming to boost the already great tourist trade can pay those off. Adding a MLB franchise to the Big Easy is a good way to show New Orleans truly rising above the long pain.
They already have the Panthers and the Hornets so a baseball team wouldn’t be out of place at all in Charlotte. The city has a good economy and a strong sports base for college as well as pro sports and some Triple-A clubs. A team meant for the south is long overdue and the Carolinas have a rabid sports base to go with their support so for a city of over 800,000 not to have a baseball team to go with their football and basketball ones seems a bit off and can give Charlotte even more of a sports stronghold than it already has.
8 Oklahoma City
A factor here can be the infamous storms that rip through the state in the summertime and delay some games. Yet the city is known as a sports spot already with the Thunder and the minor-league Dodgers and baseball is a popular sport among the high schools there. With a population of 630,000, far more than many cities with a team, there’s a great chance of getting folks packed into the stadium and boost the city up more, something they desperately need with a rough economy in the last year. It may be a bit tough in some weather but the Okies are good people who can welcome a MLB team into a great home.
Ohio is known as a top baseball state already with the Indians and the Reds but the capital can also be a good place for a team. The city has the Blue Jackets for hockey and of course Ohio State for football but its population of over 850,000 is well suited for an MLB audience as well. One possibility is to shift Mapfre Stadium for baseball but surely the city can also provide a new stadium to fit in with its lovely layout and base. Already home to the minor league Clippers, a team can give Columbus equal bragging rights with Cleveland and Cincinnati and show how baseball is as important to the place as football is.
The city boasts a good sports vibe as well as the aptly named Slugger Field, which could be expanded to a major league ballpark or the site of a new stadium. With its good location in the central U.S., teams won’t have an issue getting there and while the city goes more for the college teams, there’s enough interest to back a pro one as well. If nothing else, the idea of the home of the Louisville Slugger bats having a team of its own just makes perfect sense and the city can bring a much needed pro team to the state to balance its coffers and enhance an already strong tourist area.
The 12th largest city in the country, Indy could certainly use a baseball team to go with the Colts and the Pacers. True, the latter has seen rough attendance but the city has the Triple-A team Indians in the perfectly named Victory Field which could be upgraded for a major league team. If a new stadium is to be built instead, the city should be able to provide it with a good economy and the boon it promises in terms of jobs and tourism. There might be issues scheduling games the same weekend as the Indy 500 but having baseball to go along with football and basketball can be a good idea to give this heartland city even more regard in sports circles.
With a population of over 650,000, this city is the best bet for a major league franchise in the South. Its long history gives the town some iconic push and the sports base is already high with the Titans and the Predators making it their home. The country music aspect can add some flavor as well, a built-in bevy of acts to entertain at home games and a new stadium can be a nice boon to the city coffers. The summer weather can be humid but not much different than other parts of the country and fans can withstand it in order to handle the sight of a major baseball team at play. A great city with a nice edge to it can give a MLB team a fun southern flavor to enhance it.
3 San Antonio
Baseball is as hot in Texas as the weather as shown by the Rangers and the Astros. While that covers Dallas and Houston, San Antonio has its own sports base as shown by the Spurs and the minor-league Missions. With a population of nearly 1.5 million people, the city would have great support for a baseball team, lots of high schools to pick new talents from if needed and you can imagine the great rivalries it can form with its fellow Texas pro teams. With a strong economic base and a rabid sports push, San Antonio can stand as tall as any in Texas in terms of a thriving MLB franchise.
That the tourist center of the U.S. has only one pro sports team (the Magic) seems a bit odd. With Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World, there’s a great economic base to build upon and the idea of tempting tourists with a game to go along with the other adventures is a great idea. It’s past time the Marlins and Rays were joined in having baseball in Florida and a stadium wouldn’t be too difficult to put in and can double for the training camp needed as well. To have a baseball team in Orlando just makes it more of a must-see destination that the city’s actual native population can be more than excited for.
An obvious choice as the city has never gotten over the loss of the Expos back in 2004 and Olympic Stadium is still there waiting to be refurbished. Montreal still has a good sports base, a key to a team and Canada could use someone else besides the Blue Jays. While the Expos suffered a downturn in their last few years, the passage of time has had many wondering about getting baseball back and Montreal remains a huge market for sports not just in Canada but North America itself. It might take some doing but the fanbase is still there, a stadium that can be renovated and updated and give the Great White North another team that can hopefully give the city what they long wanted in terms of championships.