Bringing a second (or third) MLB team to Cascadia
MLB has intimated that it is interested in new team locations and it appears two cities in Cascadia are on the list. Vancouver and Portland are both growing cities underrepresented in the major sports world.
However, both Vancouver and Portland lack the corporate presence needed to fill luxury boxes (Nike being a notable exception – but they already have a team in the Oregon Ducks). Both cities would be among the smaller markets in MLB in terms of television market and population. Both have cool weather during the season – a major problem for attendance. Both cities have lost their AAA affiliate in the last two decades due to poor support.
MLB expects taxpayers to foot the bill for the billion dollar-ish stadiums. Would either community be willing and able to foot that bill?
While neither team may seem a good fit now, as a Seattle native, I sure would enjoy having two teams within a three hour drive rather than the 12 hours to the next closest team, San Francisco. The rivalry between the three cities in MLS (and formerly in the NBA) is a whole a lot of fun.
MLB to Quebec
Another city bandied about as a MLB destination is Montreal. It has a former MLB stadium, Stade Olimpique. Baseball wants to go into Canada and Montreal is highest population and GDP of Canadian cities not named “Toronto.”
But Montreal lost its MLB club within the last two decades for consistently poor fan support. MLB would almost certainly not allow Stade Olimpique to be a permanent home give MLB’s move away from multipurpose venues.
If the taxpayers would approve building a new stadium, the MLB would move there in a heart beat. However, I would not hold my breath on approval for public funding.
MLB to Dixie
One area the MLB would very much like to expand into is the South. Population and economic growth of the South has been red hot and perhaps no area hotter than the Carolinas. Hence, all the talk of moving into Charlotte.
However, it seems the response to public funding for a stadium has been tepid at best. The city’s popular minor league team, the Knights, completed a $55 million dollar stadium with $15 million in public funding in 2014. The stadium cannot be retrofitted to MLB standards. Also, the Carolina Panthers in town have already reached their hand into the cookie jar of public stadium funding. There might not be another cookie left for baseball.
MLB to the Lonestar State
Texas has been growing in wealth and population such that many in the state feel it is time for a third MLB club. Austin and San Antonio are the two markets most frequently discussed. However, neither of those markets has a suitable venue and neither market is large enough to support a baseball team. In fact, a recent study concluded that Austin could support every major league sport but MLB.
However, with all of those Texas TV sets just waiting for a new team, if it can be done, it will be done.