Baseball

MLB’s 10 New Expansion Cities

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Major League Baseball needs to grow. In the near quarter of a century since its last expansion, the American population has increased 20 percent to the tune of 53 million people. With competitions like the World Baseball Classic and the rapid development of digital technology, the game’s international presence has likewise exhibited an upward trajectory. MLB itself has an alignment issue, with 15 teams in each league making for constant scheduling difficulties.

The powers that be have already expressed an interest in expansion, and let OTH offer ten suitable cities to host the next two major league clubs.

Charlotte

  • Current team: Knights
  • 2019 attendance: 9,100
  • North American metro rank: 32 (2,426,363)
  • Per capita: $36,374
  • Possible team names: Knights, Carolinians, Southerners

The Queen City offers a strong sports culture, with the AAA Knights regularly drawing thousands. Perhaps more importantly to MLB honchos, Charlotte is home to multiple large financial institutions and features a relatively strong middle class.

Guadalajara

  • Current teams: Mariachis, Charros
  • 2021 attendance: 2,126
  • North American metro rank: 12 (4,887,383)
  • Per capita: $17,880
  • Possible team names: Mariachis, Charros, Pearls, Roses

After Covid canceled the would-be inaugural Mariachis season, Guadalajara returned gloriously to the Mexican League in 2021. The Mariachis won the North Division regular season pennant and made it to the league’s semifinals, succumbing to the eventual Serie del Rey Tijuana Toros. On the winter league side, the Jalisco Charros took the Mexican Pacific League pennant in 2022.

Mexico City

  • Current team: Red Devils
  • 2019 attendance: 7,216
  • North American metro rank: 1 (20,892,724)
  • Per capita: $47,924
  • Possible team names: Red Devils, Mexicans, Revolutionaries

The largest city in North America is certainly a tempting expansion location. Baseball is second-fiddle to soccer in Mexico, but a big league club featuring and hosting the best talent in the world could propel an entire nation into baseball fandom. Imagine a world where Mexico, already a talent powerhouse, ups its development game and produces stars at the same rates as its American, Dominican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican neighbors. This world is all the more possible with an MLB team calling Mexico City home.

Monterrey

  • Current team: Sultans
  • 2019 attendance: 9,770
  • North American metro rank: 14 (4,689,601)
  • Per capita: $37,105
  • Possible team names: Sultans, Industrials, Mountaineers, Workers

Monterrey offers many of the same potential positives as Mexico City, though its national impact may be more limited. However, the northern Mexican metropolis has a much more devoted baseball fanbase. Monterrey Stadium has played host to MLB games over the years, and a permanent resident could significantly expand the continental reach of baseball.

Montreal

  • Current team: None
  • 2019 attendance: NA
  • North American metro rank: 19 (4,045,877)
  • Per capita: $41,457
  • Possible team names: Expos, Saints, Steeples, Quebecois

Montreal, of course, is the most recent city to lose an MLB team. The Expos are a classic franchise, but it remains to be seen if baseball can sustain a presence in the Francophone centre.

Portland

  • Current team: Pickles
  • 2019 attendance: 2,252
  • North American metro rank: 33 (2,389,228)
  • Per capita: $40,526
  • Possible team names: Beavers, Mavericks, Pickles, Webfoots, Roses

Portland is a possible American candidate, but if its recent fan interests are any indication, not the strongest one. The city elected to pursue Major League Soccer rather than AAA baseball several years ago, and the Trail Blazers and Timbers may very well have wrapped up all the professional sports fans and money to be had in the City of Roses. Yet, if there is hope, Portland should look to its Mavericks history. A scrappy, underdog expansion team could be just what the baseball gods ordered to rekindle fandom for the national pastime in Oregon.

Puebla

  • Current team: Parakeets
  • 2019 attendance: 4,693
  • North American metro rank: 25 (2,941,988)
  • Per capita: $13,890
  • Possible team names: Parakeets, Warriors, Mexicans

Puebla offers a large population, albeit a relatively poor one. The upside here is that constructing major league facilities would be relatively cheap, and the brand could potentially be expanded to appeal to all of Mexico and even Latin America.

San Antonio

  • Current team: Missions
  • 2019 attendance: 4,891
  • North American metro rank: 35 (2,384,075)
  • Per capita: $26,328
  • Possible team names: Missions, Alamos, Tejanos, Bronchos, Mustangs

The Texan metropolis could propel itself into the upper echelon of professional sports clubs relatively quickly. Capitalizing on the stunning growth of nearby Austin and looking to the success of its minor league Round Rock Express, a San Antonio major league club would be well positioned.

Santo Domingo

  • Current team: Tigres
  • North American metro rank: 21 (3,658,648)
  • Per capita: $8,341
  • Possible team names: Tigres, Dominicans

Santo Domingo is on the lower end economically of potential expansion locations, but baseball is strong in the Dominican Republic. The country won the 2013 World Baseball Classic and regularly produces some of the greatest players in the game. Dominican stars would likely take pay cuts to represent their country in the majors, and merchandise revenue from expats in New York City, Florida, and elsewhere could make such a club profitable and sustainable.

Vancouver

  • Current team: Canadians
  • 2019 attendance: 5,583
  • North American metro rank: 31 (2,509,942)
  • Per capita: $39,914
  • Possible team names: Canadians, Mounties, Beavers

Adding a team in Vancouver satisfies two strong interests: Canadian/international representation and a natural rival for the Seattle Mariners. Moreover, the Pacific Northwestern city offers a strong middle class to buy tickets, merchandise, and foster lifelong fandom.

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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1 comment

  • Patrick says:

    San Antonio only lasted one year in AAA, before going back down to AA last year. We can’t even finance a new AAA park, no way we get an MLB park built.

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