30 January 2012

In what cities could MLB expand?

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.

Las Vegas
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.

San Antonio
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.


Anonymous said...

I rememebr there being a large buzz about Hampton Roads, Virginia (Norfolk, VA Beach, Hampton, Portsmouth, Newport News, Cheaseapeake, Technically forming one City to get a baseball team.)

Not sure if that was just local buzz or was there something to it.

Jon Shepherd said...

It was looked at as an option because the feeling was that Angelos could not be bought out of DC. That DC was just too big a market for anyone to give away.

Jack Everitt said...

Shouldn't MLB contract down to 28 teams, instead? I mean, it's going to happen within in 10 years, so might as well do it rather than building more stadiums that won't get a ton of use.

Jon Shepherd said...

Every owner who didn't lose his shirt in crazy leverage or Madoff schemes is making money hand over fist. No team will be contracted.

Anonymous said...

the jacksonville jaguars do not play in charlotte

PCB Rob said...

Charlotte is where the Charlotte Panthers play, not the Jaguars.

Jon Shepherd said...

Eh...mind cramp.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on New Orleans?

Jon Shepherd said...

New Orleans can use the Superdome for a while as it was constructed with the idea that a baseball team could use it. Though, I think it has been able 30 years since any team actually has entertained the idea.

From memory, Louisiana has one of the smaller media markets and a population under half a million. I think only Entergy is there in terms of major corporations. I wonder if there is really enough money to go around to provide enough support for 81 home games.

Anonymous said...

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that these cities are going to have to find private money to fund the bulk of the stadium costs (by "bulk" I mean 75%-plus), because no municipality will be able to convince its population to approve publicly financed a sports stadium/arena when funds are being cut for school, public health, police, fire, sanitation, etc.

Anonymous said...

Another problem with Las Vegas is that an extremely large percentage of residents work at night and weekends when games are played. A much higher percentage than any other city.

Anonymous said...

The populations that you cited were just for the cities--- not hte metropolitan areas, which is the more relevant fact. Instead, see:

Jon Shepherd said...

Relevance is arguable.

I do understand what you are writing. Based on what I know, I don't think it informs the issue to a great degree.

Maybe I am wrong. I do appreciate the comments because it is something that should be acknowledged if not discussed further. However, I do not see it as undermining the points being made above.

Anonymous said...

For the record, Charlotte is home to the Carolina Panthers, not the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Charlotte Panthers.

Having that said, I would LOVE for a team to make it to NC. As a lifelong O's fan from MD who moved to NC as a kid, the lack of pro ball in this state is disappointing at best. Charlotte is the obvious first choice due to its median location between BAL/DC and ATL, population, and corporate presence.

While I hate any sport being played in a stadium that wasn't designed specifically for it, Bank of America Stadium would work well while a new stadium was build next door. There is a great section of mostly empty/abandoned real estate in Uptown Charlotte directly adjacent to BofA Stadium. What worries me is that as of this fall, that section of land has been tagged for the construction of a new AAA ballpark for the Charlotte Knights. It is still in the planning stages and the main guy blocking it is known to have plans for an MLB team in Charlotte, but It definitely wouldn't happen if the minor league park was already built.

What do you think about Raleigh? I don't know of a stadium off hand where they could play immediately, but if an owner isn't trying to gain SC fans then it works best as a central location for NC.

Sorry for being so longwinded.

Jesse said...

I'm curious to see how New Orleans would stack up to the front-runners like Charlotte and Indy. Was any data available to compare? The Big Easy didn't initially register to me as a city that should get a MLB team but reading a piece over at http://www.ranker.com/list/cities-that-should-have-a-baseball-team/the-round-mound made me think about it more. Now I can't get it out of my head. They have a great NFL team and an NBA team. I can't really see hockey working in that climate but there's no reason to think that baseball wouldn't. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

what about honolulu great attendance during the summer with all the vacationers.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte is where the Charlotte Panthers play, not the Jaguars."

My head just exploded.

And why would an owner NOT want to get South Carolinian's money as well? Charlotte is the obvious answer... could the AAA park could not be expanded to a pro style stadium ?

It would be asinine to put an MLB team in Raleigh over Charlotte, but with the Bobcats (NBA) there I just don't see Charlotte being able to support 3 pro teams. Maybe the Bobcats will move to KC or something and the city will shift its focus to luring a pro ball team.

People here would be all about a Charlotte team...although there are a TON of Yankees and Red Sox and Braves fans... going to a Carolina/Red Sox game would be embarrassing as there would probalby be more Boston fans in the first few years...

But in time, Charlotte would hop on board with pro baseballl....it would be something that could last and grow with the city (as Charlotte and NC are only growing)

Voice of Reason said...

Oh come on, nobody wanted a team in his home market less than Angelos, but the league still strongarmed him into it. Putting team(s) in the northest region would just make too much sense. Is it logical to have 3 teams that are right next to each other each in the top 3 in revenue, and to be talking about putting MORE teams in regions that will be begging for revenue sharing money?

The only places worth mentioning are: Brooklyn, North Jersey, Connecticut, Upstate NY/Buffalo, force the Yankees to share a stadium with a new team, or even finding a way to put a stadium in Manhattan (which would cripple the Yankees, why go through Harlem and into the Bronx when there's already a place to go in the city?)

Putting teams where they'll thrive and not letting certain teams having monopolies of the best areas is the best way to instill competitive balance. It should be supply/demand.

Anonymous said...

I would use Metro population over city population when doing these comparisons. I would also put Austin in over San Antonio. Same amount of people, but much more money in Austin.

Anonymous said...

The AA stadium in Norwich, CT (eastern CT near both casinos) can be expanded while a proper stadium is built, similar to what they did in Texas when the Senators/Ranges moved there. And we tried to build a stadium for the Patriots in the late 90's, with public money, so I'd say we can build a ball park in Hartford on the river.

Anonymous said...

I liked the article. Like Vancouver. Disagree about Montreal. Think it would be a good place for a MLB team. I believe Ottawa is in the process of getting a AAA team, if they haven't done so already. Dont call them the Expos, though. Should be a name reflecting the French culture in Quebec. Charlotte seems like a given, but why not just a bit north in Raleigh/Durham area. Will get more of the entire state of North Carolina and possibly folks from Virginia as well to support the team. Other cities I like: Mexico City,MX; Monterrey,MX; ROCHESTER, NY-halfway between Buffalo and Syracuse (Texas Rangers doing quite well in lil' Arlington halfway between Dallas and Ft.Worth. Recently the Cowboys even moved there); Sacramento,CA (but the A's would have to move out); Baton Rouge,LA; and Birmingham,AL.

Paully said...

It's been studied in recent years. Portland is the only viable option. Baseball by leaps and bounds requires more money than the other sports. Touristy places like Vegas and Florida (nomad lands) would probably have more Yankees fans than anything else. San Antone wants the NFL and the oil cities aren't having it. Bringing Monterrey, Mexico (big with proximity to the U.S.) might be successful also.

Anonymous said...

It's too easy for people in areas around Indianapolis to go north to Chicago, southeast to Cincinnati, or southwest to St Louis. Charlotte on the other hand would only lose some of its southwest surrounding area to Atlanta. The rest of the Charlotte surrounding area would have to go well out of their way to choose something other than Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Portland or Vancouver are MUCH higher on the list for relocation/expansion to give Seattle and the AL West better competition. Right now, Seattle has the longest road trips of any other team, as the closest team they play are the A's in Oakland (and that will get further if they move to San Jose). The Mariners will push for someone else in the PacNW, and rightfully so. If the Astros can get moved from NL to AL to help the Rangers, expansion/relocation will look to Portland/Vancouver.

Charlotte is a hugely expanding market, and isn't TOO close to other markets, so it will be considered. The South in general is a much faster developing area in population, so pretty much any large urban area in Dixie will be considered--save for Orlando & New Orleans. I wouldn't be surprised if Memphis is considered in the future.

Anonymous said...

One HUGE elephant in the room of expansion that is always overlooked... and will be until certain policies/politics change:

Havana, Cuba.

MLB WILL expand/relocate there ASAP as soon as no one named 'Castro' is in power down there. Way too much possible revenue and a RABID fanbase for the game.

I predict within a decade, a new member of the AL East will join (or Tampa Rays will relocate there).

Paully said...

It's about the money with the emotion. Tampa Bay was kind of a bonehead expansion and after that MLBig buck$ will likely be more careful. Emotion and money. I think having Havana any time soon would all but kill Miami if not Tampa franchise too. Big Cuban populations there. Bye-bye: Vancouver in the NBA and Atlanta in the NHL. Montreal will again, with a better stadium, in a decade or two. But expansion is probably going to be awhile off. http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/on-numbers/scott-thomas/2011/08/baseball-has-few-options-for-expansion.html?appSession=91998886644975&RecordID=&PageID=2&PrevPageID=&cpipage=1&CPISortType=&CPIorderBy=

Anonymous said...

Why not Syracuse NY with cities that surround us like Buffalo, Rochester, Elmira, Binghamton, Ithica, and Watertown why not we can use Alliance Bank Stadium (11,011 capacity) or transfer the dome (49,054)And people would definetly want to see teams like the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Redsox, and Braves. Syracuse already has a Major Indoor Soccer team and The packers play in Green Bay and they have 200,000 less people than Syracuse and with all the cities within 200 miles there are prabably 7 or 8 mil living up here.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

population and income levels should be secondary to fan base. LasVegas and Portland would NEVER work. Those cities are not baseball towns. Portland lost its minor league team and Vegas' team is on life support. Expansion should be in cities that have crazy fans to support them even when the teams suck. My suggestions would be, Montreal, CAN. and Monterrey, MEX to start. Both cities have averaged over 900,000 in attendance per season for baseball. Other places worth mentioning..... Mexico City. Omaha,NE. Durham, NC. and how about finally shutting down Guantanamo Bay prison and building a mlb caliber stadium in Cuba!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever think about Louisville kentucky? We have always been a baseball town and currently host the Louisville Bats (AAA Afilliate for the Reds) and finish in the top 5 in attendants each year (for minor league clubs) and a 800,000 metro area population. I attended some reds games this year and asked 20 people if there was a major league baseball team in Louisville, would u attend? 18 said yes.

Rboggs81 said...

I know this is a really old post but feel like chiming in. I think putting a team in Charlotte (specifically the North Eastern corner of the city) would be a big hit and could pull from large parts of NC within an hours drive as well as parts of SC. As for the second team, I think either expanding to Mexico City (via expansion team or relocation) should happen before Canada gets a second team. I say move the Padres there and watch the fan support.

Jon Shepherd said...

Mexico City is a rough location because of travel time, lack of infrastructure, lack of a decent playing facility, and a population/corporate atmosphere that does not have the financial power of a place like Montreal or Vancouver.

Good ideas though.

Anonymous said...

Connecticut will never bring the infrastructure up to snuff, even with a multi-trillion dollar surplus. It is geographically the 3rd smallest state and there is simply no place to put the proposed new infrastructure.

My 2 cities would be Mexico City and Brooklyn. You could get the Mets to agree to creating a rival in Brooklyn if you did what they did with Baltimore/Washington where both teams are on SNY and revenue is split 50-50 regardless which team is more popular. Mexico City--it is an idea who's time as come. Foro Sol can be expanded for ML capacity and need not be larger than 35,000. The only difficulty is the rate of exchange from peco to dollar and how that would affect salaries of those on the MC team.