Baseball

MLB Expansion: Canadian Addition

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MLB fans have been getting the inkling that expansion teams may be in play just beyond the horizon. There is reason to believe this with rumors of MLB expansion, relocation chatter for teams like the Athletics, Rays, and Diamondbacks, and personnel like Dave Dombrowski having been apart of a group to bring a new team to Nashville. But one cannot help but wonder, with an MLB team already being in Toronto, is there a possibility that our northern neighbors get another MLB team?

Whenever the discussion of expansion comes up, someone always brings up the possibility of going back to Montreal. In fact, recently, the Tampa Bay Rays flirted with the city of Montreal as a split-city plan to possibly lay the foundation for a permanent move. So, is Montreal a real possibility?

MLB Expansion Back to Montreal?

I have a very difficult time believing Montreal will get a new team in MLB. The Expos left Montreal because people did not show up to watch, and the city of Montreal had no desire to help them get a stadium to keep them. The Expos have not even been gone 20 years, this is way too soon to give another crack at a failed city, especially when MLB’s primary fandom (men over 30) are the same people who abandoned the Expos the first time. Anyone crying for a new Montreal team is only doing it off of a desire for a small dose of nostalgia.

Baseball fans living in Montreal have retreated to the Blue Jays, and for understandable reason: they are the more successful Canadian team, with high expectation in the modern day. On top of that, the Blue Jays branding is designed to represent Canada as a whole, in a way the Expos branding did not. Walk down the streets of Montreal, and Blue Jays hats are aplenty and far outnumber Expos hats. A revitalized Montreal team is not likely to pull Blue Jays fans away.

Of course, the hearts of baseball purists would love to see Expos uniforms on the field again, and, sure, a new Expos team would sell out the first 2 weeks of the season, but this is in no way a plan for longevity. Anyone holding their breath on Montreal will likely suffocate.

New Voyage in Vancouver?

Vancouver is a flashy name for MLB expansion but loses its luster the more it is investigated. First, let’s discuss the appeal to Vancouver. The biggest appeal to Vancouver is how far it is from Toronto. Vancouver is on the far west coast of Canada, definitely far enough to steal west coast Blue a jays fans. This can give the west coast of Canada it’s own baseball identity.

This can bring a big marketing appeal to a Canada series, in the same flavor of the Subway Series. Additionally, this gives a geographic rival to the Mariners. This can be a great chance to market a US vs Canada rivalry between the two teams, possibly increasing attendance, revenue and excitement for both. One can’t help but feel there is a massive untapped market in Vancouver. After all, they have the successful Canucks there already.

But for every Canucks is a Vancouver Grizzlies: a failed team in Vancouver. this is important because it has a massive implication. The Canucks play hockey which is a Canadian national pastime in a league that spans US and Canada. The Grizzlies on the other hand, play an American sport that was expanded into Canada, and did not generate great results. Baseball, unfortunately, falls into the later category. This may indicate that another American sport expanding into Canada will yield results more similar to the Grizzlies than the Canucks.

If looking at population statistics, Vancouver is only the 8th most populated city in Canada. There is any other location that the map views as much more favorable for an MLB team.

Though it has to be said, the Vancouver Voyagers would be one of the best names in sports (named after George Vancouver. You’re welcome).

Calgary Can Crush

If MLB expansion is going to add another team in Canada, then it has to be in Calgary. Calgary is the 3rd most populated city in Canada (behind Toronto and Montreal) and is only about a 3 hour drive from Canada’s 5th most populated city: Edmonton. When just playing the numbers game, there is no way to argue that this is not the best geographic location for a team to generate revenue.

Not only does the population density lend itself to a brand new fan base (and it is much larger than Vancouver), but like Vancouver, it is far enough from Toronto to build its own fan base and make its own identity. Even over the American boarder, the closest team would still be the Mariners. So any marketing opportunity for an East/West Canada rivalry, or a west coast US vs Canada rivalry that may belong to a Vancouver team can easily be assumed by a Calgary team.

Oh No, Ottawa

Yes, Ottawa is the capital but it is even closer to Toronto than Montreal is. Need we say more?

Let us know which Canadian city is best suited for MLB expansion in the comments below!

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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5 comments

  • Mel Cote says:

    If a decision was based solely on population, then yes, Calgary be the right choice. , I don’t know if they can sustain a MLB franchise long term to justify the expense.

  • Jordan says:

    Incorrect.

    Vancouver Grizzlies were absolutely amazing in Vancouver. Worst team in the league 13th best attendance. Attendance only dipped in 99 when bill laurie was trying to move the team to st louis

    Nobody gave hs a change

  • Pat says:

    There is a major flaw in your logic. You are not getting your population numbers right. Vancouver is, by far, Canada’s third largest metropolitan area (2.7 million people – 3 million when including the rest of the Lower Mainland, which is Vancouver’s economic region – to Calgary’s 1.5 million). Otherwise, it is like saying that Austin is bigger than San Francisco or Boston, which it isn’t. Further, Vancouver has mild weather, whereas Calgary is much colder, meaning that playing there in April, September and October would be rough.

  • Stephane Larochelle says:

    The best possible option for MLB expansion in Canada is Montreal by far. Just go by the population, economy, history, there is no competition. The fact that the Expos were not drawing well at the end was more a reflection of how bad an ownership they had at the time. There was a time that Montreal was one of the top drawing teams in MLB. Vancouver is on the radar, but Calgary and Ottawa are no go for the foreseeable future.

    That being said, I doubt MLB is looking at Canada at the moment.

  • Scott says:

    But wait… Vancouver’s metro population (2.5 million) crushes Calgary’s (1.3m). So I wouldn’t use that as a reason for choosing Calgary. That said, Calgary is a better sports city and community feel that would lend itself to summer nights at a baseball stadium. Calgary is booming so it will only get bigger…and fast

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