MLB Expansion: Evaluating Potential Cities for New Baseball Teams

MLB Expansion: Evaluating Potential Cities for New Baseball Teams

Major League Baseball is poised to expand from 30 to 32 teams in the near future. While the exact timeline remains uncertain, the two new franchises and their commencement of play are pending decisions.

MLB Expansion: Evaluating Potential Cities for New Baseball Teams
MLB Expansion: Evaluating Potential Cities for New Baseball Teams

Commissioner Rob Manfred, who announced his intention to step down from his current role by January 2029, indicated that the league’s expansion teams may not debut during his tenure. Nonetheless, Manfred expressed a desire to expedite the selection process for potential host cities.

With this in mind, let’s explore the leading contenders for MLB’s 31st and 32nd franchises. While other cities could emerge as viable candidates, the following eight destinations are currently viewed as the most realistic options.

The potential host cities, listed alphabetically, include: Charlotte, North Carolina; Las Vegas (assuming the proposed relocation of the A’s does not materialize); Montreal, Canada; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City; and San Antonio.

Each of these cities boasts an affiliated Triple-A minor-league team, with some having additional support from advocacy groups and proposed ownership entities.

In addition to meeting certain population and economic criteria, prospective cities must be willing to invest substantial sums into new ballpark construction. This financial commitment, often supported by tax incentives, plays a crucial role in MLB’s expansion considerations.

Let’s examine each city based on four key factors: metro-area population, U.S. media-market rank, per-capita gross domestic product (GDP), and the presence of major sports franchises.

Metro-Area Population:

  1. Montreal: 4.38 million
  2. Charlotte: 2.76 million
  3. San Antonio: 2.66 million
  4. Portland: 2.51 million
  5. Sacramento: 2.42 million
  6. Las Vegas: 2.32 million
  7. Nashville: 2.05 million
  8. Salt Lake City: 1.27 million

U.S. Media-Market Rank:

  1. Sacramento (20th)
  2. Charlotte (21st)
  3. Portland (23rd)
  4. Nashville (26th)
  5. Salt Lake City (27th)
  6. San Antonio (31st)
  7. Las Vegas (40th)

Per-Capita GDP (2020):

  1. Las Vegas: $61,711
  2. Charlotte: $60,668
  3. Sacramento: $60,006
  4. Nashville: $59,213
  5. San Antonio: $56,756
  6. Portland: $55,518
  7. Salt Lake City: $49,855
  8. Montreal: $48,181

Number of Major Sports Franchises:

  • Charlotte: 2 (Hornets, Panthers)
  • Las Vegas: 2 (Raiders, Golden Knights)
  • Montreal: 1 (Canadiens)
  • Nashville: 2 (Titans, Predators)
  • Portland: 1 (Trail Blazers)
  • Sacramento: 1 (Kings)
  • Salt Lake City: 1 (Jazz)
  • San Antonio: 1 (Spurs)

Closest MLB City:

  • Salt Lake City: 520 miles from Denver
  • Montreal: Approximately 307 miles from Boston and New York City
  • Nashville: 248 miles from Atlanta
  • Charlotte: 226 miles from Atlanta
  • Las Vegas: 225 miles from Los Angeles
  • San Antonio: 197 miles from Houston
  • Portland: 174 miles from Seattle
  • Sacramento: 88 miles from San Francisco

Considering these factors, it’s evident that each city presents unique opportunities and challenges for MLB expansion. Ultimately, the decision will hinge on various economic, logistical, and strategic considerations, with a significant emphasis on financial commitments from prospective ownership groups and local governments.

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