MLB commissioner mentions Charlotte’s name on the telly!

The last time prior to yesterday that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about possible future expansion, in May of last year, he said that “I would love to see us expand” and “my personal, sort of, frontrunner would be Montreal or Mexico City.”

Yesterday,  at his All-Star Game press conference, and said:

I think we have some great candidates. I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal. It was not great when the Expos left. The fact of the matter was baseball was successful in Montreal for a very long time. Charlotte is a possibility. And I would like to think that Mexico City or some place in Mexico would be another possibility.

Notice the one thing that’s not like the other?

This isn’t actually the first time that Manfred has mentioned Charlotte as an expansion possibility — he did so back in 2015 as well, along with Portland — but in baseball Kremlinology, it’s de rigueur to interpret the hell out of every word out of the guy’s mouth, so let’s give it a shot. Maybe Charlotte has jumped to the head of the list in the last 14 months for some reason? (Probably not, but maybe Jerry Reinsdorf got a nice salad at the airport there or something.) Maybe the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s — who again were mentioned by Manfred as needing their stadium situations “resolved” (read: somebody to build them new ones, ideally with public money) before expansion can take place — wanted a city to use as a potential move threat that was actually in the Unites States? Maybe he was waiting for the North Carolina anti-transgender bathroom bill to be repealed and the sports boycotts to end? Maybe some reporter from a Charlotte news outlet was in the crowd, and Manfred just wanted to see them get all excited when he mentioned their city’s name?

Anyway, if you really care to think about where MLB might expand to eventually, here’s a nice piece from SI’s Jay Jaffe from last year running down all the potential candidates and their pros and cons. If it has to wait out a Rays stadium denouement in particular, don’t hold your breath for anything in the next couple of years, but sometime in the 2020s MLB expansion should be ready to go — assuming the Miami Marlins don’t need to relocate by then because they’re underwater.

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31 comments on “MLB commissioner mentions Charlotte’s name on the telly!

  1. Charlotte? Maybe the best available non-MLB market and one I’d put a team in if they could get a new ballpark. Great demographics. Montreal? Good baseball city with some history and they haven’t imploded the Big O, but good luck landing free agents with Canadian taxes. Still, the best bet along with Charlotte. Mexico City? Not with that economy, even though Manfred likes those 20 million people (few of whom could afford to support an MLB team over 81 home dates). Portland? Horrible baseball town and always has been. What happened with PGE Park and the Beavers says it all. I’d add Sacramento to the short list if Raley Field could be expanded, but that’s a tall order. Good market otherwise. Buffalo’s ballpark IS expandable, but the city itself is too small for MLB these days.

    1. There’s actually some crazy money in Mexico City. Oil barons, telecom monopoly holders, etc. A rather large professional class of people. The bigger problem with Mexico City is that it’s one of the few places in Mexico where baseball is not that popular.

      1. The biggest problem with Mexico City is the elevation of $7,382 ft along with lack of interest to play 81 home games. Northern Mexico – Monterrey makes more sense.

        Go Diablo Rojos

    2. I agree with most of those assessments. They’re reaching the point there are few “can’t miss” places to put teams.

      Mexico City is a huge longshot. A recent study I read put Mexico’s middle class as earning US $15,000 to $45,000. (And nearly 50% of all Mexican households fell into that category.) That doesn’t sound like a group who is going to go crazy for expensive MLB tickets and without a solid middle class backing I see no way a team could succeed anywhere.

      1. “middle class” folks are very good at watching stuff on TV, which is kinda important in the modern sports world.

        1. They’re good at watching stuff they like. You’re suggesting MLB in Mexico would instantly be a huge success on TV? When even average MLB ticket prices would make ever attending a game almost unthinkable to any middle-class Mexican family?

        2. Advertising rates and local TV revenue are also important and those are considerably lower in Mexico City. And baseball doesn’t revenue share to the degree the NFL does so that disparity would be a very big deal. So much so I question how they’d sell an expansion team there. Current owners wouldn’t want to see a cheap price because that would drive down average team value but the current average value would be way more than a Mexico City team would really be worth. They’d need a longterm agreement to keep the team from being moved. Both to allow time to get the sport established and to keep the owner from heading to a more profitable location the first chance he got.

  2. What this country needs and might finally be ready for is this: Socialized baseball! All teams are owned by the municipalities in which they play. Salaries are rigidly enforced, but still generous enough to attract talent. Tickets so cheap everyone can attend. Profits ALL plowed right back into the team–not somebody’s private sector pocket.

    Yeah, you’re right. It’ll never happen. Not here, in the US of A, the plutocrat’s paradise.

    1. That’s the economic equivalent to a perpetual motion machine. Cheap enough where “everyone” can attend but somehow players still make “generous” salaries and the public is happy to pay for all this despite nothing coming back in since all profits go back to the team.

      1. I think you might not be aware of how much money is s being made by the owners and alllll the middlemen…billions upon billions. Whenever a billionaire tells you ‘We can’t afford it’, not only are they lying; it only helps when you believe them.

        1. You’re totally right. I’m a regular reader of Field of Schemes because I have ZERO idea how much money their is in pro sports.

          I’ll go back to the question now of why any municipality would fund big-time sports when there was nothing coming back in to their coffers. It’d be one thing if you’d said “They could use the proceeds for education or infrastructure” but you went right to suggesting all proceeds would go back into the team which isn’t helping anybody.

          1. But a municipal government’s mission is NOT to make profits, but to supply competent services to its constituency.

            I don’t have a 600 page white paper outlining every detail. It’s just an idea–yet another great, money-saving sensible idea that will never happen.

            Who has more of a motivation to please their fans? Elected officials who can be fired in the next election? Or billionaires born with F-you money under their pillows? I think I know the answer to that one.

          2. Here is one example of how rich men have lied straight to my face about the budgets and accounting in MLB:

            Around 1997 the Cardinals’ new owners started making squawks about a new stadium. They threatened to move–not to another city, but to the suburbs or even across the Mississippi into Illinois. They published a full page ad in the sports section with bullet points outlining their expenses and income.

            They claimed they’d made a profit of $500,000. For the previous year. $500,000. An entire baseball team, 3 million tickets each year, one of the widest audiences across the Midwest.

            I really don’t like being lied to, especially so poorly.

    2. No question about it regarding country being a plutocracy! The politicians and billionaire owners justify the public paying for new stadiums through the cry of “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” The return on “investment” for the taxpayers footing the bill on these boondoggle stadiums and the “plethora” of jobs they bring is nonexistent. It has always baffled me how the mayors/councilmen/governors et al NEVER seem to get terms & conditions in the agreement to foot the bill for a new stadium to include some form of revenue stream for the taxpayers; i.e. the city getting a cut of parking revenue or naming rights to the stadium, etc. The White Sox stuck it to the city of Chicago AND the citizens of Illinois when they secure their new stadium in the 90’s after threatening to move to Florida…How do these city and state governments get worked over every single time?!

    3. “Tickets so cheap everyone can attend.”

      Meh if someone is priced out of MLB stadiums but still wants to see a baseball game then minor league teams are where its at.

      Same game just with wackier promotions & cheaper tickets.

  3. I know it is a not widely held opinion, but I’d argue if baseball wants more teams, a merger with Nippon Professional Baseball would make the most sense. The Japanese actually like baseball (unlike pretty much every other country on Earth) and while Japan is far a flight to Japan is exactly one hour longer with today’s flights than a NY to LA flight was in 1958.

    1. “The Japanese actually like baseball (unlike pretty much every other country on Earth)…”

      Really? Just Japan and the US? Are you forgetting Korea, Taiwan, Cuba, the entire Caribbean region, Canada…? I hope not.

      1. 12 countries play or follow baseball in a world of 211 countries. Government & corporate subsidies keep it alive in Korea. Most of the Caribbean plays soccer not baseball ! Outside the Dominican republic the sport has declined in PR. Cuba .

      2. You assume the US likes baseball. I happen to like baseball but the popularity of the sport has been in decline for decades.

  4. The fundamental problem most of the major sports in this country have run into is the shortage of viable markets.

    Many leagues currently have a presence in markets that are marginal or not viable (Jacksonville, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville etc). Others cling to outposts surrounding major centres, but have truly awful support (Glendale, Sunrise, Newark: here’s looking at you).

    It is not an accident that most recent changes in sports ‘geography’ have come through relocation and not expansion. The simple truth is there are few legitimate markets to threaten to relocate to, so using one up forever in a single expansion cash grab is short sighted (and so NHL…).

    I guess it’s possible that dimwitted politicians will be terror struck at the thought of losing the “local” franchise to a small city that lacks the ability to support it. However, even considering the lack of foresight many politicians show, it is hard to see the threat of Wichita or Duluth forming a successful basis for a new round of billion dollar stadium welfare plays.

    1. I would say the Seattle Supersonics move to Oklahoma City would seem to contradict the premise that teams will not move from large markets to “a small city that lacks the ability to support it.”

      Going back a bit further the Chicago White Sox getting a new stadium because of the threat of a move to Tampa Bay, which later proved unable to support a team, contradicts the whole bit about what dimwitted politicians will do in the face of the threat of a marginal market. I’m sure there are more recent one, but it was the first to jump to mind.

      1. “…Tampa Bay, which later proved unable to support a team…”

        Um…what? Really? How many years have the Tampa Bay Rays been wasting time not being ‘viable’…? 20 or so by now? I should be a failure at such viability.

      2. OKC does not lack the ability to support the team, as is evident. This team did not move for “business” reasons as I think you know. It moved because the new owner wanted to move his team to his home (?) town.

        There was a deal of some kind to be made on a new arena in Seattle, but Mr. Bennett didn’t want a new arena in Seattle. He wanted to cart the team he promised he wouldn’t move back home as some sort of trophy, as is his right as owner (subject to league approval).

        The White Sox did not move to Tampa though they did use it as a threat. The metro population of Tampa is some 3m+ people, so while it might refuse to support it’s current MLB team, it certainly has the capacity to do so.

        1. There are about 20M people in Mumbai. I guess that means it is a great places for a hockey team. Tampa, in fact, has been at the bottom of the league in attendance and I have no reason to believe if the team was called the White Sox and Jerry Reinsdorf was the owner it would be any different.

          As for Oklahoma City, the jury is still out. Wait until the novelty runs out and/or the oil boom that fueled a local economic bubble passes. And, yes, that move wasn’t based on any economically rational motivation.

    2. This is exactly it.

      If you use “Can get average more than 15k a game and get an OK TV audience and survive,” the general standard for a team in the 80s/90s, you probably have 15 markets to choose from.

      If you use “Can average more than 25k a game and increase our TV footprint and bottom line”, the general criteria for expansion, you have three maybes in Montreal, Monterray, or Mexico City.

  5. Any MLB stadium should be 100% funded by the team/MLB. Please read the folowing to find out why.

  6. MLB franchise require more financial support than other leagues. Therefore the NFL is able to survive in a city like New Orleans , where a baseball franchise would fail. As other leagues with less greed expand and develop fan bases in secondary cities it will become even more difficult for MLB to expand into cities such as Nashville.

  7. I’m pretty sure some of you are a bit “emotional” regarding some issues that are listed by Mr. deMause. I think I may have to enlighten some of the previous responders to a few inaccuracies that were stated.

    “Profit” listed by owners is usually (operating) profit/loss, EBIT, or earnings before interest and taxes. I.E., a $500,000.00 “profit” may be a net loss, or a “net profit” of many more multiples.

    Second, government stadium subsides obviously have an enormous impact upon financial stability and earnings. (See every other article on this website,

    Finally, market manipulation is one of the main drivers of sports revenue drivers. Hence the (Supersonics) move from Seattle to OKC, the (Rams) move from STL to LA, and even the (Giants/Trolley Dodgers) move to California from NYC. If there was literally no profitability, or prospect of it even through government intervention, the Jets would have moved back to Manitoba from Glendale.

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