Major League Baseball currently has 30 teams – 15 in the National League and 15 in the American League – and is seemingly doing quite well.
However, with increasing revenues comes talk of expansion, and the MLB is no exception, as commissioner Rob Manfred found out at the All-Star festivities in Miami this week.
The commissioner was asked which cities the league would consider expanding to in the future and didn’t shy away from the question, listing three possibilities for new teams.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Manfred listed Montreal, Mexico City and Charlotte as three cities he’d like to see have their own professional baseball team in the future, though he didn’t say when the league might expand:
“I know the Mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said.
“Charlotte’s a possibility. And I’d like to think that Mexico City or some other place in Mexico would be a possibility.”
Obviously, not all of those cities are likely to receive a team, as that would make an uneven 33 MLB teams, which would cause major scheduling issues. But, seeing two of those cities land teams wouldn’t be out of the question in the next 10 years.
However, Manfred said the league is working to fix some ongoing stadium issues with the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s before expansion is even considered for other cities:
“I think for us to expand we need to be resolved in Tampa and Oakland in terms of their stadium situations,” he said.
“As much as I hope that both Oakland and Tampa will get stadiums, I think it would be difficult to convince the owners to go forward with an expansion until those situations are resolved.”
But, if those stadium situations don’t get sorted out, the Rays or A’s could decide to pack up and leave town, in which case Montreal, Charlotte and Mexico City would come back into play as possible destinations.
The last two expansion teams were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now just the Rays) and Arizona Diamondbacks back in 1998. The previous round of expansion in 1993 saw the creation of the Colorado Rockies and Florida (now Miami) Marlins.
Montreal used to have an MLB team, but the Expos packed up and left for Washington D.C. in 2005, becoming the Nationals in the process. However, Montreal still has a baseball stadium that could accommodate an MLB team, so it is probably first among the three cities if an expansion opportunity arises.
Or, if the Rays can’t figure out a solution to their current stadium woes, we could be rooting for the Montreal Rays in the not-so-distant future.