It has been over 20 years since the last MLB expansion when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks were added to the league for an even 30 teams. With the NFL shuffling teams around, the NHL actively expanding, and rumors of NBA expansion, I (along with your help) am going to expand Major League Baseball to 32 teams.
This will be a 3-part interactive blog, where you guys help me make major decisions to create two new expansion teams for Major League Baseball; one in the American League and one in the National League. Part 1 of this series will feature a breakdown of what I decide are the best four candidates for MLB expansion. After reading this blog, we will hold a vote on the CSMN Instagram story (@capitalsportsmn) on Wednesday 4/28 at 5pm, where you guys will be able to vote and decide which two cities we will move forward with in part 2.
For part 2, I will come up with 4 possible team names and explanations for the two most voted cities from part 1, and hold another Instagram story vote to determine the team name for each of our two expansion teams.
For part 3, I will use the create-a-team and create-a-stadium features of MLB The Show 21 to bring the two teams you guys voted on to life. I give the options, you guys make the decisions, and part 3 will be the big reveal of the two expansion teams we created together.
So let’s get right into our four options for expansion cities. The four candidates I have identified for MLB expansion are:
Metro Population: 1,249,000
Major Sports Teams: Nashville Predators, Tennessee Titans, Nashville SC
Baseball Teams: Nashville Sounds (AAA)
Nashville already has 3 major league sports teams, proving that it is a city that can sustain an MLB franchise. In addition to the 1.2 million people residing in the Nashville metro area, the city gets roughly 15 million tourists per year. The home of country music already has a strong entertainment presence, and there are several groups pushing for MLB expansion in Nashville including Phillies GM Dave Dombrowski.
Nashville sits on the upper edge of the Atlanta Braves media market, which happens to be the largest in baseball in terms of area, so it is the ideal candidate market-wise to be broken up with an expansion team.
Metro Population: 2,151,000
Major Sports Teams: Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Timbers, Portland Thorns FC
Baseball Teams: Portland Pickles (Collegiate Summer Team)
Portland resides in the Seattle Mariners media market, another of baseball’s largest markets area-wise. Oregon lacks a strong professional baseball presence, but major league sports are able to thrive in Portland, as their NBA, MLS, and NWSL teams receive strong support.
Portland also has a baseball history with the several iterations of the Portland Beavers, a former minor league AAA team, appearing between 1903 and 2010. Portland hosts nearly 9 million overnight tourists per year in addition to its 2.1 million+ metro population.
Las Vegas, NV
Metro Population: 2,699,000
Major Sports Teams: Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas Raiders, Las Vegas Aces
Baseball Teams: Las Vegas Aviators (AAA)
Las Vegas has been a hotbed for sports expansion in recent years. Five years ago all the city had to offer was a WNBA and USL soccer team, however, the NHL and NFL have since both made moves to Vegas. Vegas strongly supports its AAA team and sits right on the border of the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers media markets.
This is helpful when planning an expansion franchise since the market is split there is not a current die-hard fanbase in the area, leaving the door open to acquire a strong, passionate fanbase. Sin City gets the second most tourists per year on this list with a whopping 40 million+ visitors each year.
Metro Population: 1,964,000
Major Sports Teams: Orlando Magic, Orlando City SC, Orlando Pride
Baseball Teams: Atlanta Braves Spring Training Complex
MLB in Florida has generally not worked out, with the Rays and Marlins being among the bottom of the league in attendance every year. Florida was given a team in the last expansion in ‘98, but that team is already considering packing its bags for Montreal for half of the season. The Rays heading north would leave a gap in the entire central and north Florida media markets.
A fresh start in Orlando could finally be a team Floridians embrace. In addition to its 1,964,000 metro population, Orlando is one of the largest tourist destinations in the country, largely due to its theme park popularity, with a record 70+ million tourists. Maybe the third time’s the charm for Florida.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Metro Population: 4,221,000
If there’s going to be an expansion team in Montreal it’s going to be the Expos and that’s no fun for what we are trying to do here. Still, fingers crossed that Montreal’s name gets called when it’s time for expansion.
Metro Population: 2,054,000
Charlotte is a major league city in my opinion. They already have a strong NFL and NBA presence and support their AAA team, but Nashville is a better candidate and they fall in the same media market so Charlotte will have to wait until next expansion.
Be sure to go to our Instagram story @capitalsportsmn on Wednesday 4/28 at 5pm to vote for the city you want to see an MLB expansion team in!