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It seems that nearly every week, articles surrounding the potential relocation of the A’s and Rays surface. A panel looking into a potential San Jose relocation for the A’s has been gridlocked since 2009 (and remember, the A’s have been looking to move to San Jose for a heck of a lot longer than that). The Rays haven’t been far behind in their efforts to get out of Tropicana Field. Whether it’s the commute for fans to get to the domed stadium, the aesthetics, or the need to be closer to an urban core, it seems that Tampa Bay has been seeking a new ballpark for just as long. Relocation for these two clubs is crucial.

Another thing that comes up less frequently but has extra meaning going into 2013 is expansion. With the Astros moving into the AL West, the American League and National League will now be balanced at 15 clubs a piece. The problem is that 15 is an odd number, and as a result, interleague will become a daily affair. It’s unlikely that’s something that the league wanted, so getting to 32 clubs would take care of that matter. That would mean revenues spread thinner with two extra mouths to feed. Additionally, it’s no given that one or both wouldn’t be revenue-sharing takers, and trying to get ballparks built is no easy feat in this economy. So, 30 is a number that seems to suit the “Big Four” sports leagues in North America. The NBA has it. Ditto for the NHL. Currently, only the NFL—which has the advantage of being highly centralized (revenues are shared more evenly across the franchises) and exceptionally popular—is the exception at 32 clubs.

Of the four leagues, it is Major League Baseball that has gone the longest without expanding (1998). The NHL expanded in 2000 with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, the NFL in 2002 with the Houston Texans, and the NBA in 2004 with the rechristened Charlotte Bobcats. If you do the math, you find that MLB’s hasn’t expanded in 14 years, the longest since the boom in the 1960s. That rapid period occurred shortly after Walter O’Malley and Horace Stoneham moved the Dodgers and Giants to the West Coast. The moves in 1957 by these two clubs showed that, with the advent of air travel, large markets west of the Mississippi that had never before been considered could be tapped. When coupled with the growth of television, untapped revenues could be accessed. The AL and NL were also very much separate leagues competing for these new markets, so it was a bit of a “gold rush.” Now, most all the prime large markets have been sucked up, and television, once simply an over-the-air matter, is a huge factor given regional sports networks and their expansive territories. Today, it’s more or less a case of major markets being sucked up (although, as we’ll show, there’s the potential for at least one to be successful).

Below is a listing of clubs that were either part of expansion or went through relocation, along with their respective leagues, from the time the Dodgers and Giants relocated until now.

Expansion or Relocation in the Modern Era







Senators relocate, become Twins



Senators (Part II)









Milwaukee Braves relocate to Atlanta



KC Athletics relocate to Oakland















Second Senators relocate to Arlington (Rangers)






Blue Jays












Devil Rays



Expos relocate to DC (Nationals)



When ranking markets for potential relocation or expansion, it makes sense to look at the most recent move of the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. This was the last time the league took a hard look at markets that might wish to be home to an MLB club.

In early November 2001, MLB attempted to downsize the league from 30 teams to 28 through “contraction.” The Expos had been languishing in Montreal for a number of reasons, and with MLB reportedly losing money, they looked to downsizing as a way to minimize losses. Since 29 teams would have been lopsided, the Minnesota Twins, through owner Carl Pohlad, threw their hat into the ring for contraction.

The problem was (and still is) that markets without Major League Baseball clamor for it, if opportunity knocks. After contraction was out, relocation was explored. Given the legal wrangling and want for MLB, markets came calling for a relocated Expos, and with it, we got the Washington Nationals.

Since then, the Marlins have used relocation as a method to feel out the Portland and San Antonio markets (though that was more an attempt to leverage a new stadium out of the South Florida market—and it worked).

Let’s say that baseball was going to get serious about relocation or expansion; how would we go about rating the potential suitors?

The methodology I’m going to use is based on what MLB requested of markets when the Expos were up for relocation. (As a matter of disclosure, I worked with the city of Portland in 2000-01, which is where they ultimately sent the league this fully-vetted document.)

The following information was used to derive rankings:

  • 2010 Census population (for international markets, other sources have been used).
  • Household median income based on census.
  • Distance to the nearest existing MLB market or markets (relates to cannibalizing fan base at the attendance and television level).
  • Number of existing professional sport franchises within the market. This derives the population base per franchise. The more franchises, the more diluted the market becomes in terms of fans for season tickets and corporate sponsorships.
  • Television markets are defined not only by Designated Market Area (DMA) but by looking at MLB’s television territories, which are vastly larger than television DMA. Any team placed within the U.S. would carve up one or more clubs’ television territory. As we saw with the relocation of the Expos to DC, that aspect has profound impacts.
  • The Arbitron Radio DMA is provided to show strength of radio audience.
  • For relocation, possible interim facilities are provided. An expansion would most likely not require an interim facility while a new, state-of-the-art MLB stadium was being built. A listing of how many Fortune 500, 500 Global, or 1000 companies are within a market is provided. These companies would be key for sponsorships, possible naming rights, and corporate blocks of tickets which are becoming more and more common for lower bowl sales.
  • International Markets do not have media rankings, but other forms of information are provided.

10. Norfolk, VA
2010 Census Population (data): 242,628 (Rank: 79th)
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $42,677            
Distance from Closest MLB Market(s): 143 miles (Nationals), 165 miles (Orioles)
MLB Television Territories Impacted: Nationals and Orioles
Television information (data): (Ranks 44th by DMA), 709,730 television households, 0.622 percent of total US TV households
Radio Information (data): Arbitron Ranking: 44th (Metro 12+ Population: 1,367,100)
Number of Major League Teams: 0
Interim/New Facility location: Harbor Park (upgraded from 35,000 to 38,000-seat stadium including 60 – 70 luxury suites).
Population base per franchise (including MLB team): 242,628
Number of Fortune 1000 Companies (data): 1

In 2003, Norfolk appeared as a possible relocation candidate for the Montreal Expos and a possible stop-gap measure for Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos. Angelos saw a team in Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia as unacceptable. Norfolk, it seemed, was far enough away from Baltimore.

Norfolk, at the time, had a funding model on the table that could be leveraged, and baseball boosters collected deposits for season tickets, should a team arrive.

Think of Norfolk, and that old real estate adage comes to mind: location, location, location. The problem is that it’s a bad one.

When the Expos were relocated to Washington, D.C., the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network was created, thus placing Norfolk in both the Orioles’ and Nationals’ broadcast territory. As it stands, Norfolk is now too close to the D.C. and Baltimore markets. While there will be cannibalization no matter where a new MLB team is placed (with some international locations the possible exception), Norfolk would be dealing with Peter Angelos just after MLB dealt with Angelos regarding the relocation of the Expos.

9. San Juan, Puerto Rico
2010 Census Population (data): 381,931
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: 1,038 miles (Miami)
MLB Television Territories Impacted: None
Median Household Income: $27,017
Television Information: An estimated 1.1 million households exist in Puerto Rico, 98 percent of which have at least one television set (source Museum of Broadcast Communications)
Radio Information: N/A
Number of Major League Teams: 0
Interim/New Facility Location: Hiram Bithorn Stadium (seating capacity: 18,000)
Population Base per Franchise (including MLB team): 2,450,292
Number of Fortune 500 Global Companies: 1

Hiram Bithorn Stadium wound up being “home” to the Montreal Expos for parts of two seasons (2003 and 2004, during which they played a total of 44 games). It has also been used to host the World Baseball Classic and an Opening Day game in 2001 between the Blue Jays and Rangers. MLB has been quick to pull San Juan into discussions anytime that relocation has been the subject. No team claims Puerto Rico as their television territory. To the best of our knowledge, television deals in Puerto Rico are centralized across MLB.

The biggest issues with San Juan include upgrades to Hiram Bithorn to get it anywhere near MLB-ready, the low median income, and the lack of a corporate base. Add in travel concerns (it would be the furthest south of any MLB team), and San Juan becomes a great location for MLB events but is unlikely to be a permanent home.

8. Montreal, Canada
Population (2006): 1,854,442 (proper, ranks as 2nd largest city in Canada), Metropolitan area: 3,635,571
Distance to Nearest MLB Market(s): Boston (253 miles), New York (329 miles), Philadelphia (388 miles)
MLB Television Territories Impacted: Blue Jays
Median Household Income: $47,500 (Canadian)
Television Information: Second-largest television market in Canada (DMA figure unavailable) (source Museum of Broadcast Communications)
Number of Major League Teams: 3 (NHL: Canadians, CFL: Alouettes, MLS: Impact)
Interim/New Facility Location: Olympic Stadium (seating capacity – 46,500)
Population Base per Franchise (including MLB team): 1,211,857
Number of Fortune 500 Global Companies: 4

Let’s face it; it’s easier to go someplace you already know than someplace where everything is an unknown. With that, the return of MLB to Montreal should never be left off the relocation/expansion list. While it’s a foregone conclusion that calling Olympic Stadium any kind of permanent home for a return to Montreal is out of the question, it could serve as an interim facility. Given the “what if?” that came with the 1994 strike, the Expos’ story could have turned out entirely different. The team, firing on all cylinders, seemed playoff bound.

When the Expos were snatched from Montreal and sent off to D.C., the chief complaint by MLB was the lack of support. That wasn’t entirely Montreal’s fault and falls on ownership (namely Jeffery Loria) to a certain extent, but the ability to garner any type of public funding for a new “Labatt’s Stadium” would be nearly impossible. Couple that with a lukewarm fan base, MLB’s memory of how international exchange rates created problems just after 2000 (although that exchange rate certainly works in Canada’s favor now), and the near impossibility of garnering public funding for stadium development, and Montreal may have trouble ever getting back on MLB’s radar.

7. Monterrey, Mexico
Population: 1.1 million (proper), Metropolitan area: 3.8 million
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: 412 miles (Houston)
MLB Television Territories Impacted: None
Median Household Income: (2000 figures) Valle region: $11,300, Inner city: $8,700
Television Information: Second-largest market in Mexico
Number of Major League Teams: 0
Interim/New Facility Location: Estadio Monterrey (seating capacity: 26,000)
Population Base per Franchise (including MLB team): 2,450,292
Number of Fortune 500 Global Companies: 0

Monterrey has hosted more than one MLB game. The Dodgers and Brewers played there in 1991, the Twins and Braves in 1993.

While Monterrey doesn’t have a single Fortune 1000 company that it can call its own, with NAFTA, Monterrey is an industrial hub hosting a laundry list of U.S. company presences. American Express, Amway, Baker & McKenzie, Bank of America, Carrier, Caterpillar, Chrysler, Donnelly, GE, GM, Honeywell, IBM, John Deere, JC Penney, Kohler, Korn/Ferry International, KPMG, Kimberly Clark, Lucent, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Pinkerton, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Trane, Toyota, Visteon, Wayerhaeuser, and York all call the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon home. Fortune ranks Monterrey as the best Latin American city in which to conduct business.

Throw in Mexican industrialist Carlos Bremer, who along with Jose Maiz worked during 2003 to try and get MLB to host 22 MLB games in Estadio Monterrey, and Monterrey becomes the prohibitive favorite should MLB consider expanding or relocating teams to Mexico.

Much like Montreal, international exchange rates would play a factor, should MLB look to relocate or expand internationally. Monterrey knows full well about how the rise and fall in currency can impact matters. Maiz mentioned this in 2004 to "In 1994, we applied to get games played here on a permanent basis, but in December 1994, there was a big devaluation of the money here," Maiz said. "I wrote a letter immediately to the Major Leagues to tell them to retire my proposal because the country was not in a condition to host a team.”

Another issue is the amount of discretionary income available to those in Monterrey. Mexico is broken into three “zones” of the republic, with Monterrey falling into “Zone B”: the middle of the economic classes. Still, the average household income is deemed to be well below U.S. standards. That creates sustainability concerns.

Monterrey is a possibility but may be a decade off.

6. San Antonio, TX
Population (data): 1,359,758
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: Houston (197 miles), Arlington (278 miles)
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $43,152
MLB Television Territories Impacted (data): Astros, Rangers
Television information (data): (Ranks 36th in DMA) 881,050 television households, 0.772 of total US TV households
Radio Information (data): (San Antonio only) Arbitron ranking: 28th (Metro 12+ population: 1,858,500)
Number of Major League Teams: 1 (NBA: San Antonio Spurs)
Interim/New Facility location: Nelson W. Wolff Stadium (seating capacity: 9,500)
Population base per franchise (with MLB team): 679,879
Number of Fortune 1000 Companies: 8

Pushed up against yet another failed bid for stadium funding in 2006, the Marlins decided to look at other markets, including San Antonio. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a big baseball booster in San Antonio (note that the Mission’s ballpark is named after him), threw his political weight behind the attempt to work a deal that might be attractive to Marlins brass. That, in and of itself, is always a plus for any market. Judge Wolff’s political moves earned San Antonio more than a passing glance. Add in the lack of strong objections from the Spurs at the time, and San Antonio has possibilities.

Where San Antonio might fall short is that it is a small market. In 2006, the plans were to try and place the ballpark closer to Austin (80 miles away), where a larger population could be drawn from. That was a double-edged consideration—a more people, good; away from an urban core, bad. Still, it showed that San Antonio was at least trying to make it happen.

As mentioned, San Antonio is a small market, which hurts their chances. The small DMA adds a further crimp and was mentioned as a negative in 2006 by Marlins president David Samson. Throw in the fact that the whole of Texas is split up by the Rangers and Astros, and San Antonio becomes a third wheel, slicing up the television market further.

San Antonio could happen, but for it to work, MLB would have to get cozy with the idea of a ballpark outside of the urban core. It’s hard to see MLB going along with that for a relocation candidate, let alone expansion.

5. Las Vegas, NV
Population (data): 589,317
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: Los Angeles (270 miles), Anaheim (222 miles)
MLB Television Territories Impacted (data): Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Athletics, Giants, D-Backs
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $54,334
Television Information (data): (Ranks 43rd in DMA) 718,990 television households, 0.630 percent of all US TV households
Radio Information (data): Arbitron ranking: 32nd (Metro 12+ population – 1,656,200)
Number of Major League Teams: 0
Interim/New Facility Location: Cashman Field (seating capacity – 9,334)
Population Base per Franchise (with MLB team): 589,317
Number of Fortune 1000 Companies: 7

Las Vegas was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, although with the downturn in the economy and Vegas being tourist-based, the growth has slowed some. At some point, however, Las Vegas seems like a destination for a major sports league franchise. One thing seems certain: whichever league gets into Vegas first will have no problem selling suites. Saying that you own a suite is one thing. Saying that you own a suite in Las Vegas is another. It’s an entertainment magnet.

In 2004, Vegas became the hip location to talk about for the Expos. If D.C. failed, it seemed that the idea of legalized gambling was no longer a prohibitive factor. Mayor Oscar Goodman got MLB brass to come out and talk stadium specifics, but “specifics” never seemed to come from Goodman. Vegas would have to wait.

As is the case with any market, the primary issue is funding a stadium with as little input from the would-be owners as possible. As mentioned, Mayor Goodman talked of a scheme to get a stadium developed with little-to-no public subsidy. That model was not completely made public, but in an interview with Lou Weisbach of Stadium Capital Financing, it seems that a large part of the Vegas effort was the use of Weisbach’s Equity Seats Rights model. Whether it was the idea of the seat rights program or the fact that Goodman wasn’t keen on coming up with other public subsidies (something that other developers of entertainment locations in Vegas have had to do without), MLB talked about Vegas’ possibilities, but the rubber never hit the road.

Beyond those issues, while Vegas is growing like a weed, there’s really nothing more than tumbleweeds outside of Vegas proper. As the ranks above show, Vegas has an exceptionally small television market size. With television becoming a key revenue driver, the small DMA works against Vegas. Throw in a dose of Pete Rose for good measure, and MLB may not be the first in the door in Las Vegas. Oh, and talk about television market cannibalization issues. Vegas is arcanely split six ways. Negotiating that would be interesting.

4. Charlotte, NC
Population (data): 751,087
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: Atlanta (224 miles)
MLB Television Territories Impacted (data): Nationals, Orioles
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $52,446
Television Information (data): (Ranks 25th in DMA) 1,136,420 television households, 0.995 percent of all US TV households
Radio Information (data): Arbitron ranking: 24th (Metro 12+ population: 2,071,600, which includes Gastonia-Rock Hill)
Number of Major League Teams: 2 (NBA: Bobcats, NFL: Panthers)
Interim/New Facility Location: Knights Stadium (seating capacity: 10,002)
Population Base per Franchise (with MLB team): 250,363
Number of Fortune 1000 Companies: 12

Charlotte’s greatest strength lies in its market size (both local and regional), as well as the exceptionally strong corporate base in and around the city. The median family income is strong as well, ranking highest on this list. Charlotte was repeatedly mentioned as a possible relocation destination for the Expos and as recently as 2005 was on the “Marlins Relocation Tour.”

I should mention that you could flip a coin with my no. 3 and no. 4 in this ranking. Both of their fortunes are tied to the political landscape at any given time a relocation or expansion was to arrive. Both markets have very different strengths and weaknesses that could play a factor at any given time.

Charlotte’s fortunes are negatively impacted by, of all teams, the Washington Nationals, who play nearly 400 miles away. The relocation of the Expos to D.C. was tied to a regional sports network (MASN) for Orioles owner Peter Angelos. That means the broadcast territory for the Nationals and the Orioles reaches to Charlotte, which also means it may be a good long while before MLB has any notion of trying to cannibalize a television market that was hard fought for by Angelos. Add in the fact that the NBA Hornets relocated to New Orleans when an arena didn’t arrive, thus causing the city to scramble to get a new arena built and get an NBA team back in 2005, and going after public dollars would be a tough go. Throw in the Carolina Panthers for good measure, and suddenly with an MLB team in the market you’re looking at a population base per franchise of 250,363—a tight squeeze in the market.

3. Portland, OR
Population (data): 593,820
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: Seattle (200 miles)
MLB Television Territories Impacted (data): Mariners
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $48,831
Television Information (data): (Ranks 22nd in DMA) 1,182,180 television households, 1.035 percent of US TV households
Radio Information (data): Arbitron ranking: 23rd (Metro 12+ population: 2,152,300)
Number of Major League Teams: 2 (NBA: Trail Blazers, MLS: Timbers)
Interim/New Facility location: PGE Park (seating capacity: 20,000, expandable to 25,000)
Population base per franchise (with MLB team): 197,940
Number of Fortune 1000 Companies: 5

Portland worked hard in 2003 to come up with a financing plan and actually pulled off state funding that never sunsets. With Oregon having a state income tax, the law on the books provides up to $150 million in funding by earmarking the income taxes the players (both home and away) and executives have to pay off the debt service. Portland also has the fully vetted finance plan they submitted to MLB as a jumping-off point. The plan outlines aspects such as local funding concepts, possible site locations, and 2003 figures for construction costs, which could be reused to calculate costs at a later time.

Portland is home to both Nike and the North American headquarters of adidas, making a sponsorship tug-of-war a possibility. (Would Nike allow “adidas Field” in their own backyard?)

While Portland can siphon population from Washington State’s Clark County, go much further north than Longview (approx 45 miles away) and it’s solid Mariners territory. Indeed, Portland is heavily involved in the Mariners’ marketing plans. A team in Portland would not sit well with the AL team to the north.

Other negatives revolve around the market itself. While it is the largest market with only one major league franchise (with the exception of Salem and Eugene, 100 miles to the south), there are pockets of rural area all around the city. Additionally, the small number of large corporations is not a strong point for Portland.

While PGE Park could be used as an interim facility, it’s an exceptional longshot now that it has been converted into a soccer-only venue. Getting into PGE Park means getting around MLS, and given the immense popularity of soccer in Portland, the odds of that are exceptionally long.

While a considerable percentage of fans from Portland make the 200-mile trip to Seattle to get their MLB fix, the market would have to overachieve from an attendance perspective beyond any honeymoon effect. Plus, in 2001 Portland was looking at an open air facility. While weather in Portland is some of the best in the country from July to September, spring can bring constant rain. Without a retractable roof, walk-up would be dinged considerably. In a small market, this would be something MLB would be looking to avoid.

2. Sacramento, CA
Population (data): 472,178
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: 81 miles (Oakland), 88 miles (San Francisco)
MLB Television Territories Impacted (data): Athletics, Giants
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $50,267
Television Information (data): Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto (Ranks 20th by DMA), 1,387,710 television households, 1.215 percent of US TV households
Radio Information (data): (Sacramento only) Arbitron ranking: 27th (Metro 12+ population: 1,887,800)
Number of Major League Teams: 1 (NBA: Sacramento Kings)
Interim/New Facility Location: Raley Stadium (max seating capacity: 14,111)
Population Base per Franchise (including MLB team): 236,089
Number of Fortune 1000 Global Companies: 1

Slowly but surely, Sacramento has continued to grow in population, and there is that “just maybe” element to the market. Its biggest plus, however, is that it’s within Oakland’s current broadcast territory. That makes a possible A’s relocation much easier to deal with. Even though the Giants call Sacramento part of their broadcast territory, the idea of having the A’s move out of the Bay Area and dropping the whole “move to San Jose” effort would seemingly make the Giants far more amicable to relocation. And while there has never been a direct correlation between minor league attendance and how a major league team has fared after arriving (they are, after all, very different products), the Rivercats of the PCL have been a consistent and steady draw, showing that folks in Sacramento love baseball. Reno isn’t exactly close, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for those in the Biggest Little City to make the trek to Sacramento in the summer to take in games.

Having only one Fortune 1000 company creates sponsorship issues, especially when you consider the NBA’s presence. Certainly the Maloofs, who own the Kings, would be none too pleased with the idea of an MLB team in their small market. The brothers have been working for years to land a new arena for the Kings, and relocation out of the market continues to be discussed. A push for MLB would cloud that effort, and it seems a given that they would pull every string they could find to thwart an effort.

1. Northern New Jersey
Population: The seven counties that are included in Northern New Jersey have a total population of 3,492,590, as of the 2000 U.S. Census (source)
Distance to Nearest MLB Market: New York (Bronx) (22 miles from Newark), Flushing (17.5 miles from Newark), Philadelphia (85 miles from Newark)
MLB Television Territories Impacted (data): Yankees, Mets
Median Household Income (2006-2010): $35,659 (Based on Newark)
Television Information (data): (New York) (Ranks 1st in DMA) 7,384,340 television households, 6.468 percent of US TV households
Radio Information (data): Arbitron ranking: 1st (New York Metro 12+ population: 15,867,400)
Number of Major League Teams (NY plus NJ): 10 (NHL: Devils, NHL: Islanders, NHL: Rangers, MLS: Red Bulls, NBA: Nets, NBA: New York Knicks, MLB: Yankees, MLB: Mets, NFL: Jets, NFL: Giants, plus the WNBA’s Liberty)
Interim/New Facility Location: Unknown.
Population Base per Franchise (with MLB team): 349,259
Number of Fortune 1000 Companies in NY (source): 50

It’s amazing given the large number of major league franchises that you still wind up with the New York/New Jersey area with plenty of populace, corporate base, and television and radio strength to support another. That’s why Northern New Jersey is the number one relocation/expansion market for MLB. It’s someplace that, if MLB’s owners were somehow willing to allow it to happen, the Rays could potentially relocate to. Since there are caveats with every available market out there, why not go where the strongest chance of success is available?

The biggest (and probably only) thing blocking a third MLB team in the New York area are the Yankees and Mets (and, yes, most likely the Phillies). The heel-digging would be tremendous on the part of these clubs, and the compensation to placate two or three clubs would be tremendous. Other than that issue (and yes, it’s more than an 800-pound gorilla, to be sure), the only other issue might be an interim stadium (you could play at the Trenton Thunder’s Waterfront Park, but it only has a seating capacity of 6,500). Still, that issue of getting around the Yankees, Mets, and Phillies is massive. The political dance would be one for the ages to pull off a team in Northern New Jersey.


They say the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t, so when it comes to the relocation of the A’s and Rays, let’s face it: no market looks great these days. All have caveats. All have something that might make you say it could only work five or ten years from now. So those clubs, while highly frustrated, seem to be sticking close to home; they understand their markets better than the untested.

When it comes to considering expansion, MLB isn’t even close to it. With it seeming likely that the Rays and A’s hang on to see if something crops up for relocation in their backyard, then none of these markets are likely to be tested anytime soon.

Still, the exercise in examining them yields interesting information for the future. At some point, MLB will seriously consider expansion. That will most likely coincide with revenues coming in flat or declining for the league (the expansion fees would offset a decline in revenue growth). Those days aren’t even close to being here. Expansion or relocation will just have to wait. Say hello again to “30”.

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Excepting North Jersey/New York, are any other current MLB cities a candidate for another team? Or maybe a better question is: would any current MLB city rank on this list?
Would love to see the return of an NL teaming Boston. But the Bosox would raise holy hell.
Maury: great article! One other possible location (after the Castros die/leave): Havana? Or would Loria block a relocation?
how about bringing a major league team to Pittsburgh? ( had to be said...)
Is there a long term reason that Mexico City isn't an option? Also, out of interest, when did MLB split things up into television territories? That would seem to me to be the big barrier to any real changes.
The issue with Mexico City is travel distance. The union and league have negotiated how far players have to travel and Mexico City is too far. Exhibition games? Yes. Regular season games? No.
Austin texas is great, no major league professional franchises, decent Corporate base, large metro area which is growing... Problem would just be competing with UT football, but competition would not be direct. Also, would have a hard time with private funding of a stadium...
Be interesting to see how F1 works this weekend. I can see it whetting the apetitte of folks here for a baseball team.
Maury: since you include MLS, then Montreal has the Impact.

As for NY/NJ, I'd favor Brooklyn. If NJ, then somewhere closer to Edison, as it's the transportation hub in central NJ. Obviously, Yanks/Mets will fight regardless.
MLS was difficult for me to factor. I was tempted to just stick to the Big-4, but in some markets, MLS is a big force (see Seattle, Portland, etc).
I'd consider MLS to be of some force in Montreal. Their attendance base is 20K, and they've drawn 60K at Olympic Stadium for their opener. I'd consider them in the same ballpark as Alouettes.
Added the Impact to the article.
Geoff Young reminds me that the Padres and Rockies also played in Monterrey in 1996
The infamous "Snickers bar" game for Ken Caminiti
It might have been better to examine data for the various Metropolitan Statistical Areas rather than the individual cities. That way you include the population and income data of the suburbs rather than just the decaying core.
would really like to see Montreal and either Portland or Vancouver, BC get teams.

Montreal is the 19th largest metro area in North America (ahead of Seattle, Minneapolis, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Baltimore, Denver) so it makes sense in terms of the market. Would be a matter of approving plans for a retractable roof stadium.
It would be interesting to see where some of the current markets would rank using such an approach, notably Tampa Bay and Oakland.
I'm wondering if Buffalo, NY is on any radar screens? They have the Bills and Sabres and seem to be a city rabid for sports (my impression; I live in Ontario). Their Triple A team has been around for quite a while and is, I believe, well supported.
Buffalo was a finalist for the 1993 expansion I do believe. Their park was actually the first of the new retro-style parks that was built. Many people say it was Camden Yards, which is true if you're talking MLB parks but Buffalo got in on the action first.

That said...with the struggles the Bills have had and the fact that there are several teams in the area (Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and both NY teams will claim that area even if it's far away) I just don't see it ever happening.
Another problem with Northern NJ- the folks in NNJ see themselves as in the suburbs of NYC and as metro-NYers- hence the lack of turnout for the Nets and Devils. This is despite the continued excellence of the Devils.

More evidence- The Nets just quintupled (at least) their fan base by moving to Brooklyn. The best Newark has been able to do in baseball is the independent league Newark Bears. Newark is not a place you travel to. NJ does not have a city that binds a metro area together (NYC and Philly are the binding cities).

NNJ is on top of the list every time I hear about places for expansion, but it really does not make sense. Charlotte and Portland make immesurably more sense.
Northern NJ always gets mentioned but what about a team out on Long Island? The NY Islanders were in talks it seemed to moved their hockey team but never happened. Want a new arena in Nassau County...could an Arena/Baseball Park joint complex (similar to what was built in Cleveland) work? Like Northern NJ the population issue is non-existent as there's still a ton of people out there. Traffic is also a nightmare as it takes over an hour to get to Citi Park (if not more) depending where you're at so I can't believe many fans that go to Mets/Yanks games would stop going, it'd be more fans that simply don't want to make that long of a drive.

Obviously you'd still have a huge issue with TV market with the Yanks and Mets but at least you wouldn't have to worry about the Phillies in this situation (one obstacle down, two GIANT ones to go)...

I wonder if baseball agreed with the Yanks (and Mets) that they wouldn't have to pay any luxury tax/revenue sharing for say 5-10 years (or something) if they allowed a 3rd team in the area if it'd at least be a starting point?

Still think though that of all the cities mentioned, Portland is the most likely and best fit. Seattle can claim them all they want but it's another state entirely. Maybe throw Seattle the Vancouver market (which according to MLB.TV is a Toronto market now).

Would love to see 2 expansion teams....16 teams in each league with 4 divisions of 4 like football. no need for interleague play every single day (ugh, so annoyed that's comming)...
Citi Field is "on Long Island" - it's reasonably accessible from the LIRR and also the Long Island Expressway. Travel time from Nassau County is similar to travel time from Manhattan/Brooklyn. A large chunk of the Mets' fan base is on LI... the next biggest chunk is Brooklynites who would never root for the Evil Yankees.

If you're going to build something in NYC it is probably going to have to be Brooklyn.
The Islanders announced three weeks ago that they will be moving to Brooklyn to share the Barclays Center with the Nets in time for the 2015-16 season, They agreed on a 25 year lease.
On those asking about why Vancouver, Canada didn't make the list...

For those that have been watching the stadium game in the US, leagues prefer if the public picks up all or most of the costs. This is something that, rightly or wrongly, plays directly into the notion of bringing more MLB back to Canada. The Expos made my list, really, due to one factor: the Expos history and the fact that you could use the Big Owe as an interim facility. But, Montreal is a big long shot in any effort... I went with it because, really, every market out there is a long shot; there's dilution. In other words, MLB isn't going to be keen on going into small-to-mid- markets, nor grapple with international politics or the exchange rate when it doesn't go in the same direction as the US (remember, players have to be paid in US dollars).

But, back to Vancouver, while this is from 2011, the issue holds true. From the Winnipeg Free Press:

Generally, public dollars [in Canada] have gone to build sports facilities for non-professional events such as the Olympics, but some money has gone to buildings used by professional teams. According to an Edmonton Journal article, 24 out of 30 NHL arenas were built with some public money, substantial amounts in some cases. The average cost of an arena was $165 million and the public paid about 43 per cent of the cost. In seven cities, the majority American, the public paid 100 per cent of costs.

It should be noted that arenas are less expensive to develop than ballparks (especially when a roof is in play, and in Vancouver, you have to really consider that). I love Vancouver, BC as a market. I don't see them viable for political reasons. Bash me on Montreal... I still pine for the Expos.
If Montreal if a long shot, and I agree it is, and NY #3 is the top place, then Chicago #3 and "LA" #3 should be in the top 10. Both have more fans to support a 3rd team than any city outside your top 5.
An indoor facility could make the DFW area viable for another team if they could secure the financing. North Texas is HOT in the Summer and an air-conditioned facility would differentiate the product.

Boston and NYC seem like obvious candidates for additional franchises as well.
If the Athletics move to somewhere other than San Jose then SJ probably jumps to the head of this list. The nearby corporate base and median income would be too high to ignore.
No Indianapolis?
This is the problem with this topic... I did nearly 5,000 words on it, and could have pumped another 5K into doing Top 20. There are places like Indy, Salt Lake City, Orlando, etc. that could easily come into the conversation. But, I stuck with the markets that had done some legwork in the past as that info helps for any potential looks now. I mentioned in the article, but as a matter of disclosure, I worked on the MLB to Portland effort in 2000-01. While the data that we game to MLB is there (and is a heck of a head start), the landscape has changed greatly. For one, ballpark sites have nearly all dried up. One, near the Rose Quarter, actually looks better now than it did originally as trolley access is now there, and it looks like a convention center hotel is (finally) going to happen.

But, the costs of getting a stadium have increased dramatically, and while the city tried to blunt that by saying they could go without a roof, I don't buy that.

All the small markets that one discusses needs to have a roof, unless you're talking a locale in the southwest or south of the US border. The league and the owners are always going to try and avoid having a revenue-sharing taker. In that, walk-up at the gate becomes paramount. If you are in a location where the weather is adverse (and, Portland, you have that in the Spring), then you have to have a retractable roof.
Where would Chicago or LA have ranked on the list? I know LA has Anaheim, but I wonder if either of those are a better fit for a "3rd" team than NYC would be, just because of the cars and the sprawl.
It would seem like Hartford, Connecticut would be an option as well as while the city population is only 125K or so, the county has 850K and proximity to NYC. Presumably the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox would fight tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. That said, the best possible solution to MLB's supposed parity problem would to locate one new team in northern NJ, one in Hartford.
The foundation of this all is metropolitan demographics. Looking around you can make the case that cities with metros of 2 million like Cincy, KC, and Pittburgh are not big enough. You really need cities with 3m like Seattle, Minneapolis, and St. Louis for a strong franchise. Problem is aside from North Jersey and the Inland Empire (San Bernadino, etc), which are problematic for other reasons, the biggest metros without a club right now have about 2m. So there really is no ready market out there right now.

What about 10 years from now? Still not looking that good. If you assume that metros will grow about as much from 2010 to 2020 as they did from 2000 to 2010, looking at the census data, the leading metros open metros in 2020 would be Sacramento, Vegas, Orlando, Portland, and San Antonio, each with about only 2.5m people, with Charlotte and Austin just a bit behind. Still nothing all that exciting. It might take until the mid-2020s until some of those cities would become demographically viable.

Meanwhile, of the current franchises, a number of cities already marginal (Pittsburgh, Cincy, Milwaukee, KC) may slip more in the coming years. So rather than planning expansion, MLB should be happy if it can hold onto 30 franchises over the next 15 years...
Good article. One quick thing: Red Bulls are the NY/NJ MLS team now - not the MetroStars.
Nashville TN

Over 1 M population - 29th TV market. Williamson County (just south of Nashville) quite affluent. Growing.
If NC is part of the Nationals' local market, I wish they'd show some damn games here. I live in Greenville NC, in eastern NC, and there are no local broadcasts of Nationals or Orioles games at all, but both teams get blacked out on MLB, TBS, ESPN. (They stopped showing the O's here on Fox Sports South about a decade ago, and have never shown Washington.)
I would think that showing the greater metro area population would be more meaningful than that of the immediate political entity in play.

For example, while Norfolk may only have 242,628, the greater Virigina Beach/Norfolk/Newport News area is overall the 36th largest metro area with 1,671,683.
Rays move to Havana in 2025, calling it now