Previously, I touted the New York metro area and Connecticut as expansion areas. Those arguments relied on a few difficult to foresee events: (1) the New York and Boston teams agreeing with new encroachment, (2) a multi-stadium home format would work until a real stadium could be built, and (3) proper infrastructure exists to support a new stadium. The main problem with that idea was that there is not an overwhleming demand of locals to bring more baseball into those areas. That means that no one could mount enough of a cause to get ballot measures passed to appropriate money to build a stadium. Even if private funds were put in place, public funds would need to be tapped to put improvements on infrastructure to get people in and out of games. Infrastructure is the main issue that is killing the Rays down in Tampa. It is just so difficult to get to their stadium if you live in Tampa. Connecticut and upper New Jersey have similar issues.
If those funds could not be put in place then MLB would wind up having teams that floated around the existing baseball stadiums as well as barnstorming AAA and AA stadiums in a sort of boutique fashion. That idea might be too different for some people. Think of it this way, if the Bowie Baysox stadium was dressed up with a 10 MM renovation, would you pay $50-150 instead of the normal $8-75 you pay at Camden Yards? Would that level of intimacy work? It would be a major risk.
In light of that, I decided to look at more traditional locations for expansion. The following list was devised based on what cities were previously entertained with expansion and relocation opportunities. For statistics, I will be using the same method I used when suggesting that you actually can argue the Orioles are a small market team.
TV Market - 25th
Radio Market - 24th
Population - 731k; 18th in US
GDP - 103MM; 2.6% growth
Charlotte has several things going for it as a potential MLB city. First and foremost, it has a modern stadium in Bank of America Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. This provides a large capacity structure where a team could eek out a few seasons before a sufficient stadium could be constructed. Not all stadiums can house a football team, I am assuming this one can. Second, Charlotte has a corporate culture. Seven fortune five hundred companies call Charlotte their home. This includes Bank of America (134.2B revenue; 9th overall), Nucor (15.8B; 157th), Duke Energy (14.3B; 173rd), Goodrich (7.0B; 337th), Sonic Automotive (6.9B; 339th), SPX (4.9B; 460th), and Ruddick (4.4B; 498th). Additionally, 50th ranked Lowe's (48.8B) is a half hour up I-77 in Mooresville, NC and Family Dollar (7.9B; 302nd) is 20 minutes away in Matthews, NC. This means that there is a strong corporate base to buy season tickets in the area. Charlotte's TV and radio market is better than five current MLB teams each. It has a strong population that is steadily growing and a growing GDP.
TV Market - 26th
Radio Market - 40th
Population - 820k; 12th in US
GDP - 92.8MM; 3.6% growth
Indianapolis share a few things in common with Charlotte. It has a similar TV Market, a slightly larger population, a similar growth in commercial products, and a football stadium that should be able to be converted into a temporary home for a baseball club. However, there have been yearly cries by the ownership of the Colts about how Indianapolis is a not a cash flush area. It may just be ownership looking for a better deal similar to what Irsay did when he took the Colts out of Baltimore (or when Modell took the Browns out of Cleveland for that matter). One difference between Charlotte and Indianapolis is corporate presence. Indianapolis has two Fortune 500 companies bringing in a revenue of 81.9B within the city limits: WellPoint (58.8B; 42nd) and Eli Lilly (23.1B; 115th). Cummins (13.2B; 186th) is located an hour away in Columbus, IN. Charlotte has corporations headquartered around the city that pull in 2.5 times as much revenue as the ones around Indianapolis. That reduced foundation makes for Indianapolis to be a potentially worthwhile MLB city, but with poorer footing than Charlotte.
TV Market - 40th
Radio Market - 32nd
Population - 584k; 30th in US
GDP - 80.2B; -1.9% growth
Las Vegas is commonly mentioned as a location for an MLB team either by expansion or relocation. In fact, Bud Selig considered Las Vegas a finalist when determining where to move the Montreal Expos. It sounds like a good idea. Vegas was going through a period of rapid growth until smacked down by the recent economic crush. Lots of tourists with free time visit the city and may be interested in watching a game. The concerns were that the city has a high level of flux, which would make it difficult for a baseball team to take root and there was some concern over the need for gambling establishments to take a major investment in the franchise. Why gambling establishments? There is not much else there in Las Vegas. The city can claim three Fortune 500 corporations: Caesars (8.8B, 277th), Las Vegas Sands (6.9B, 342nd), and MGM Resorts (6.0B, 380th). In addition to a poor corporate presence, Vegas would have the worst TV Market in the game, which is where a lot of the money is at, contracting GDP, and no suitable stadium for a team to begin play. There just is not enough money in the city to prime the pump for a MLB team to move in.
TV Market - 19th
Radio Market - 34th
Population - 238k; 79th
GDP - 94.2B; 2.4% growth
Orlando has a few things going for it and a few reasons why it hasn't been tapped for a team. It has a solid low second tier TV Market and the region is rather prosperous. What has hurt the city is that much of the money is in entertainment in the form of all of the amusement parks in the area. As has been shown countless times, baseball teams do not make money for the city as opposed to merely pushing it around a little bit. With the city already being a pilgrimage of the Mouse...there just is not likely to be a major buy in from those group. The only Fortune 500 company headquartered there is Darden Restaurants (7.1B; 332nd). The Citrus Bowl is likely to be the only stadium to be able to be used for baseball until a new one could be built. Finally, Florida seems to be home to two baseball clubs that are not exacting pinnacles of business success. Putting in a third one, two hours from the Tampa Bay Rays may not be the best of ideas.
TV Market - 21s
Radio Market - 23rd
Population - 584k; 29th
GDP - 121.7B; 4.7% growth
Portland appears like an obvious location for a MLB to sprout up. It has a long history with AAA baseball. It has had a rapidly growing GDP. It is a decent size city with a respectable standard of living. A corporate presence is on the low side, but it does have Precision Castparts (5.5B; 409th) and Nike (19.0B; 135th; 15 minutes away in Beaverton) call it home. Even with this presence, AAA baseball has left the city twice in the past 30 years. That is not a great record. However, I would put it ahead of Orlando and Las Vegas. With Indianapolis it is a question how whether one believes more in corporations and population or media markets and GDP.
TV Market - 36th
Radio Market - 28th (Cinci, Clev
Population - 1.327 MM 7th in US
GDP - 73.6B; 3.0% growth
San Antonio is a promising option, but with a drawback. First with the good news, San Antonio has an immense population that is being poorly served by top tier professional sports. The media market is not great, but has good long term prospects. This region has been a hotbed of growth even during the economic struggles the rest of the United States was facing. San Antonio also has a major corporate presence. The city is home to Valero Energy (86.0B; 24th), Tesoro (20.3B; 128th), United Services Automobile (17.9B; 145th), CC Media Holdings (5.9B; 391st), and NuStar Energy (4.4B; 497th). That is a good group that would help buy up seats and luxury suites. The problem is though that the main stadium available, the Alamodome, was built without the ability to store a MLB field. The structure cannot be retrofitted to accommodate a team either. This means a club would need to have a new stadium waiting for it. The Arizona Diamondbacks accomplished that feat. The Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins, and Washington Nationals required an existing stadium. Before them, Seattle and Toronto used preexisting stadiums. Point being, it is uncommon to have everyone in order for a MLB to show up on your doorstep.
TV Market - ~20th
Radio Market - ~42nd
Population - 590k; ~29th
GDP - 83B; 3.0% growth
I have argued before that baseball should move up north again. I think baseball could work in Montreal, but I don't think that will happen any time soon. That city is no longer MLB ready anymore. Vancouver is. Of all of the cities, Vancouver would be the easiest one to move into because of BC Place. BC Place was originally built with the intent of luring a baseball team. That was unsuccessful, but the building has been renovated and is a fairly modern stadium with proper infrastructure in place. It hearkens back to the Tropicana except that it has an excellent location and the stadium has been kept up. Vancouver also boasts a few corporations who would appear on the Fortune 500 if they were in America: Telus (9.6B; 257th), Teck Resources (8.8B; 277th), Jim Pattinson (7.1B; 331st), and Best Buy Canada (5.6B; 404th). That is not a stellar corporate presence, but it is stronger than Portland, Orlando, and Las Vegas. It has a second tier TV market, a third tier population, and a growing economy.
Of these cities, Charlotte is an obvious front runner for an expansion team. San Antonio has a strong foundation, but would need to get enough capital in place to not only buy a franchise, but also develop land for a stadium for the team to play in on day one. That is logistically difficult. Indianapolis has supposedly had issues with the Colts pulling in enough cash, making them threaten to look elsewhere. Portland is an old school favorite, but their difficulties in keeping their AAA clubs cast some doubt and they need a stadium immediately. Orlando and Las Vegas are simply poor fits. Vancouver looks like a decent third tier location with a great stadium situation.
I would probably award Charlotte and Vancouver the teams. I would bump out Vancouver if San Antonio could promise a stadium.
Also of note, with Constellation Energy appearing to be falling under Exelon, Baltimore will have no Fortune 500 companies. Washington DC has seventeen.