MLB Expansion Watch

E5 Yaz

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Sorry if I missed an existing thread, but thought we could break this out as a topic. ESPN writers did a thought-exercise piece today, rounding up the potential sites, discussing pros/cons and answering the surface-level questions for each. Some interesting nuggets in each. The cities discussed were:

Austin / San Antonio
Charlotte
Mexico City
Montreal
Nashvile
Orlando
Portland
Raleigh
San Jose
Salt Lake City

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/39563422/mlb-expansion-potential-cities-candidates-teams-austin-montreal-nashville-orlando-portland-raleigh-salt
 

Tony Pena's Gas Cloud

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I suggested this long ago:
Put teams in Nashville or Charlotte and Montreal. Screw the AL and NL. Organize the divisions by location.
East: Bos, NYY, NYM, Tor, Mon, Bal, Phi, DC
North: ChW, ChC, Det, Min, Mil, Cle, Pit, Cin
South: Mia, TB, Atl, Hou, Tex, StL, KC, Nas/Cha
West: SF, Col, Ari, Sea, SD, LAA, LAD, Oak/LV

Play each team outside the division three times (72 games). Play each team in the division 13 times (91 games, so there's one "hanging chad" where one division match up is 12 instead of 13, making 90).
Suggestions are open for a playoff format, but for travel and scheduling ease, this makes total sense.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Sorry if I missed an existing thread, but thought we could break this out as a topic. ESPN writers did a thought-exercise piece today, rounding up the potential sites, discussing pros/cons and answering the surface-level questions for each. Some interesting nuggets in each. The cities discussed were:

Austin / San Antonio
Charlotte
Mexico City
Montreal
Nashvile
Orlando
Portland
Raleigh
San Jose
Salt Lake City

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/39563422/mlb-expansion-potential-cities-candidates-teams-austin-montreal-nashville-orlando-portland-raleigh-salt
I thought that I read that if the A's leave Oakland, that's a city that might get an expansion franchise.

Also, the Diamondbacks owner threatened to move the DBacks yesterday if they don't get stadium updates to the tune of $500M.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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I suggested this long ago:
Put teams in Nashville or Charlotte and Montreal. Screw the AL and NL. Organize the divisions by location.
East: Bos, NYY, NYM, Tor, Mon, Bal, Phi, DC
North: ChW, ChC, Det, Min, Mil, Cle, Pit, Cin
South: Mia, TB, Atl, Hou, Tex, StL, KC, Nas/Cha
West: SF, Col, Ari, Sea, SD, LAA, LAD, Oak/LV
The Cubs would dominate that North division with their spending.

How is Montreal going to compete with all those big market teams?
 

axx

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There's good reason why there hasn't been expansion in so long. At this point you are simply scraping the bottom of the barrel.

San Jose is the only one that I think would work but you would seriously hurt the Giants.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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There's good reason why there hasn't been expansion in so long. At this point you are simply scraping the bottom of the barrel.

San Jose is the only one that I think would work but you would seriously hurt the Giants.
I selfishly think North Carolina would do well. This is Braves territory by default.
 

Tony Pena's Gas Cloud

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The Cubs would dominate that North division with their spending.

How is Montreal going to compete with all those big market teams?
The Cubs have fluctuated from 2nd to 23rd in payroll over the last quarter century, and average in the 10th-12th range. I'm not sure how that's a guarantee it will dominate a division.
 

Sad Sam Jones

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The Cubs would dominate that North division with their spending.
I fail to see how the Cubs situation would be any different than currently. They would no longer be competing with the Cardinals, but the Guardians and Twins are better run organizations than any of the others currently in NL Central.
 

Humphrey

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Cardinals/Cubs is a longstanding rivalry. I would doubt either club would agree to a lone annual series. The rest of your realignment is quite good.
 

8slim

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There's good reason why there hasn't been expansion in so long. At this point you are simply scraping the bottom of the barrel.

San Jose is the only one that I think would work but you would seriously hurt the Giants.
Disagree completely. There are a bunch of high population, and growing, markets that could support a team tomorrow.

Sacramento, Charlotte, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Indianapolis, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Montreal are all larger markets than several current MLB teams. Why are they the "bottom of the barrel"? St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Milwaukee are all smaller than those markets. Aren't *they* the bottom?
 

SoxJox

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IF, and a big IF, Mexico City seems like such an obvious choice. Big market. Huge potential source of home-grown, adored players, introduction into the Spanish world, easy travel.

Imagine that first, then Cuba.
 

axx

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I'd like to see them put a team in the DR. Wouldn't work economically but it'd be good television at least.
 

Yaz4Ever

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IF, and a big IF, Mexico City seems like such an obvious choice. Big market. Huge potential source of home-grown, adored players, introduction into the Spanish world, easy travel.

Imagine that first, then Cuba.
I would LOVE to see Mexico get a team. That would be huge. Selfishly, I’m also hoping NC gets a team.
 

Ale Xander

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I'd like to see them put a team in the DR. Wouldn't work economically but it'd be good television at least.
Yup. Santo Domingo has a per capita GDP of about 40% of Mexico City.
They can’t really support an MLB team
 

SoxJox

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I was hoping Montreal would get a shot again but it looks like MLB has their eyes on Nashville and Salt Lake City. The NHL is going to Salt Lake City too.
I'm thinking MLB is tired of trying to plant seeds in Canada, beyond the current Toronto "token" - much less replanting in Montreal. Vancouver might be a better excursion, but Seattle wouldn't support that, of course, for geographic proximity. But that consideration doesn't necessarily mean much, given multi-team cities already in play.
 

SoxJox

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I don't think SLC will be in play for some time - at least until the Athletics puzzle is figured out for LV.

In either case, is there really a fan base in either? LV is 1.3M pop, SLC IS 2.2M pop. Maybe, but I don't see them as having traditional or "historical" connections as cities of similar size (e.g., Pittsburgh, Cincinnati). And, although I don't have a real feel for the demographics, I'd think that both SLC and LV are populated by a pretty significant portion of generational types that are falling away from baseball...or are we considering a significant interest from retired pickleball greybeards?

For that area of the country, MLB may want to look to lessons learned and dynamics from Arizona before looking at either of these 2 locations.
 
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SoxJox

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What I would like to see is a major regional conference system setup...North American, the Americas (Central, South, Caribbean), Japan (to maybe be broadened to "Asian", to include Taiwan and other emerging baseball centers), with a real WORLD championship series.

A) Shorten the MLB season to accommodate
B) To avoid an Olympic-type approach, MLB and other regional rosters are set to preclude movement of players to another team in a competing conference (i.e., a Dominican player on an MLB team cannot play for an Americas team).
 
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AlNipper49

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View: https://twitter.com/NashvilleStars/status/1727031537097679342


View: https://twitter.com/BRWalkoff/status/1759984882845925590


The rumor I'm hearing is that with Titans stadium being blown up in a few years that would be looked at as a potential location. It's quite literally a perfect location. Nashville is basically a city full of cranes right now with all the companies escaping to there. It's a no-brainer imho. Hopefully Vandy would be in line for a new stadium too. For such a premium college baseball team I've always thought that their stadium kind of sucks.
 

SLC Sox

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I don't think SLC will be in play for some time - at least until the Athletics puzzle is figured out for LV.

In either case, is there really a fan base in either? LV is 1.3M pop, SLC IS 2.2M pop. Maybe, but I don't see them as having traditional or "historical" connections as cities of similar size (e.g., Pittsburgh, Cincinnati). And, although I don't have a real feel for the demographics, I'd think that both SLC and LV are populated by a pretty significant portion of generational types that are falling away from baseball...or are we considering a significant interest from retired pickleball greybeards?

For that area of the country, MLB may want to look to lessons learned and dynamics from Arizona before looking at either of these 2 locations.
I would just note that Utah has the youngest population of any state. The SW corner (St. George) is a booming retirement community like LV and AZ, but that's a ways from the SLC population center.

The other cool thing is that the state is putting together a sort of entertainment district similar to what the Braves did but but without the racism. This one is planned for the west side of the city which is closer to where most of the diversity and underrepresented communities are.

Edit: geography
 
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kfoss99

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Is expansion wise or feasible? I don't see where there is demand to support more teams.

The Diamondbacks' owner is making threats of moving if he doesn't get some major welfare. They drew an average attendance of 25,000, last year and that was pretty good attendance in the league. But, it seems paltry. The Celtics are selling out at 19,000. So, the team sold tickets at 1 and a third basketball stadiums. That doesn't seem great.

The Orioles were sold at a smaller gain than if that money was just invested in the average stock market. The A's are a mess.

The Regional Sports Networks are having big trouble, where one company has gone bankrupt.
 

Whoop-La White

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IF, and a big IF, Mexico City seems like such an obvious choice. Big market. Huge potential source of home-grown, adored players, introduction into the Spanish world, easy travel.
There's the elevation factor. Mexico City is 2,000 feet higher than Denver. The first of the two games played there between the Giants and Padres last year ended with a score of 16-11. Monterrey, which has hosted games three times previously, at 1,770 feet might be more manageable (though some of those games have been slugfests too.)
 

SoxJox

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The fences could be adjusted accordingly. A simple math problem to convert to the equivalent of average L
MLB park, although that would increase the size of the outfield, which could itself have other effects on offense...and defense for that matter.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The Diamondbacks' owner is making threats of moving if he doesn't get some major welfare. They drew an average attendance of 25,000, last year and that was pretty good attendance in the league. But, it seems paltry. The Celtics are selling out at 19,000. So, the team sold tickets at 1 and a third basketball stadiums. That doesn't seem great.
I understand what you're trying to illustrate but it's not a totally fair comparison. While the C's are certainly a hot ticket, they'd probably not be selling out every game if during a given home-stand they had to fill the Garden six times in seven days rather than 2-3 times. Lower supply, increased demand = more sell-outs.

Of course that doesn't excuse the DBacks begging for welfare to upgrade/replace their ballpark.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Is expansion wise or feasible? I don't see where there is demand to support more teams.

The Diamondbacks' owner is making threats of moving if he doesn't get some major welfare. They drew an average attendance of 25,000, last year and that was pretty good attendance in the league. But, it seems paltry. The Celtics are selling out at 19,000. So, the team sold tickets at 1 and a third basketball stadiums. That doesn't seem great.

The Orioles were sold at a smaller gain than if that money was just invested in the average stock market. The A's are a mess.

The Regional Sports Networks are having big trouble, where one company has gone bankrupt.
Yes expansion is both wise and feasible. MLB hasn't expanded since 1999, which would be the longest it has gone without expansion since 1901-1961. There are a lot of areas that are clamoring for major league action, whether that comes from MLB, NBA or NHL. You could probably make the argument that MLB is hurting itself not getting into new markets while those other leagues do that. I mean they completely missed the bus on Vegas. The municipalities at the top of this thread are more than able to support a major league franchise.

The D'Backs owner is an asshole. Full stop. He simply wants more free money from the city/state and is crying poor. I don't think that it has much to do with baseball itself and has more to do with Arizonans instead. Instead of comparing the DBacks to the Celts, you should compare them to the Suns (last year they were 24th in the NBA with an average of 17k), the Cards (30th in the NFL with an average of 62k) and the Coyotes (probably not important since they play in an arena that seats 5,000). I'm a little surprised that the Suns are so low, the arena holds 18,422 so they're not exactly playing at full capacity either. (These are all 2023 numbers, BTW).

The Orioles are good now, but they had been dreadful for a long time and had an owner who was reviled in the city despite playing in a beautiful ballpark. An owner, who doesn't put a lot of cash back into the team, and also just squeezed his municipality for almost a half billion of corporate wellfare. And you're right, the A's are complete mess. But that all goes back to owner John Fisher, who in any other world would be forced to sell, not gifted a brand new stadium for being a complete shithead.

Where are you seeing the lack of demand?
 

kfoss99

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Where are you seeing the lack of demand?
I had deleted something before I posted to which you answer. Is attendance and the Bally's RSN bankruptcy due to lack of demand, bad ownership, or both? In the A's case it's bad ownership. It sounds like that's the case for more clubs, too.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Is attendance and the Bally's RSN bankruptcy due to lack of demand, bad ownership, or both?
I think that attendance and the Bally bankruptcy are two completely different things. I would say that the Bally situation has nothing to do with ownership or fan demand, but just Bally's poor management. That's not the owners' or fans' fault, right? Maybe if you squint, you might be able to blame fans since they don't consume sports as they did even five years ago, but I wouldn't blame them at all. The owners were given a bag of cash from Bally's, you can't blame them for taking it, can you?

As far as attendance goes, that's a bit more complicated. Until last year the DBacks weren mediocre at best and have been for 20+ years. Sometimes they're good, sometime they're bad but mostly they're just there. They're kind of an anonymous franchise to a lot of people in the country. They have stars but nobody that captures the zeitgeist like Randy Johnson did back at the beginning of the century. Who's that on? Is it on the ownership for not doing what they need to do for having a meh franchise year after year? Is it on the fans for not supporting that meh team year after year after year? I'd put it on the former rather than the latter, but if you disagreed, I'm not going to try and talk you out of it.

The way I would look at owning a franchise is that you get what you give. In other words if you're content being fine and competing sometimes, you're going to get an apathetic fanbase who will support the team when they're good but forget about them when they're not so good. One of the things that I keep hammering away at on the main board is that there is so many things competing for a fans' time and money, you really have to make much more of an effort to get their attention (and wallets). If it looks like you don't care--which usually translates into how much money are you dumping into the team--people won't care (especially in a fairly new market like Arizona). If you're an owner, you can't take your fans for granted anymore--there are just too many distractions.

Owners love the concept of the free market until it applies to them. Then all of a sudden they turn into whiny babies. Invest in your teams and your fans will invest in them too.
 

Max Power

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Sports are literally a zero sum game. You can't have every franchise going for it and being successful at the same time. I get that some are worse for longer and generate more apathy, but being good all the time can't be a prerequisite to having a supportive fanbase.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Sports are literally a zero sum game. You can't have every franchise going for it and being successful at the same time. I get that some are worse for longer and generate more apathy, but being good all the time can't be a prerequisite to having a supportive fanbase.
I don't understand this way of thinking at all. Why can't every franchise put in a good faith effort and try to be competitive every year? No one is expecting a World Series every year and yes even the best laid plans don't always work out, but if you're an owner of a franchise and decide that you want to save some money and peddle it as some sort of "Desert Process" the fans don't owe you anything. You try, they respond with their money and time. That's the deal.
 

axx

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In the A's case it's bad ownership. It sounds like that's the case for more clubs, too.
It's an economic thing for the A's. They need to leave Oakland. If Vegas falls apart, they need to go somewhere else or 'encourage' Fisher to sell to someone who can get a move done.
 

AlNipper49

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I’m a drastic guy. There are a lot of variables but I think the main variable should be the amount of teams in a market should be indexed to population size. Any market big enough should be looked at as a potential landing spot. There should be 10-15 more teams and a relegation system out in place to prevent a team like the Astros tanking for years to rebuild, to prevent teams from profit harvesting and to make it exciting top to bottom. Every single kid within range of a decently sized metro should be able to identify with a major league team. Expand the minor leagues to true regional divisions (northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest). Finding a way to insert international teams here would be epic.
 

axx

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My metrics would be:

A growing population, with a decent % of which those coming in have money to spend
Some reasonable expectation that those people are remotely interested in baseball
Plenty of corpos with HQs or a major presence... so they will buy sponsorships and luxury boxes and such
Has a nice enough plot of land that you can put in restaurants and bars and stores to give it more of a year round usage. And is reasonably safe so people won't be afraid to go there.
And last but not least, a local government willing to gift hundreds of millions of dollars to get the stadium built ;)
 

YTF

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I'm thinking MLB is tired of trying to plant seeds in Canada, beyond the current Toronto "token" - much less replanting in Montreal. Vancouver might be a better excursion, but Seattle wouldn't support that, of course, for geographic proximity. But that consideration doesn't necessarily mean much, given multi-team cities already in play.
I wasn't aware that Seattle and Vancouver are as geographically close as they are, but I'm guessing the fact that they are in different counties should lessen territorial concerns.
 

Max Power

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I don't understand this way of thinking at all. Why can't every franchise put in a good faith effort and try to be competitive every year? No one is expecting a World Series every year and yes even the best laid plans don't always work out, but if you're an owner of a franchise and decide that you want to save some money and peddle it as some sort of "Desert Process" the fans don't owe you anything. You try, they respond with their money and time. That's the deal.
It's just math. The Red Sox have finished at 78-84 the last couple of years and the fanbase is out of their minds at how it's unacceptable for a large market team to ever have a losing season. If the Red Sox should never have a losing season, and the Yankees should never have a losing season, and the Dodgers and Braves and Cubs and Mets should never have a losing season, then there aren't too many other winning seasons to go around for the other 20+ teams in the league. They can "make a good faith effort" and throw money at guys who would rather take less to play for the Dodgers, but they're still going to be 78-84 if things don't break right.

Your average major league team is statistically going to miss the playoffs 2 out of 3 years. And if the big market teams should never miss the playoffs, then it's realistically closer to 5 out of 6 for a small market team. Any new markets are going to be small since the big ones are already taken. Will the fans support a team that is probably only going to snag a Wild Card every 6 years and probably only win a playoff series every 12?
 

Hoya81

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I wasn't aware that Seattle and Vancouver are as geographically close as they are, but I'm guessing the fact that they are in different counties should lessen territorial concerns.
I remember reading somewhere that the Blue Jays have at least partial rights to all of the Canadian provinces, but no rights in northern NY or New England.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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The population is growing, sure, but what about the population of people actually playing baseball? In the US at least, it seems like the # kids playing baseball dropped quite a bit from 2019-22. Hard to get great data here, though, and surely the pandemic had an impact here but adding, say, two more teams would further dilute the talent on each team, no?

https://projectplay.org/youth-sports/facts/participation-rates
 

SLC Sox

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Talent will be diluted by definition, there is no way around that. The question is whether talent has been concentrated enough since the last expansion that the dilution will reset the talent level to an acceptable level. I have no doubt fewer kids are playing baseball (or any sport, for that matter, given all the choices), but with that also has come technology to create better youth leagues and training and, crucially, more and more international talent. I'm biased but I think it's the right time to expand and two more teams should be the minimum under consideration. Nashville, SLC, Montreal, Mexico City.
 

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I remember reading somewhere that the Blue Jays have at least partial rights to all of the Canadian provinces, but no rights in northern NY or New England.
I'm not really sure about rights, but a few years ago I was in Seattle when the Blue Jays were there. Downtown Seattle was teeming with people in Blue Jay's gear. I talked to a dozen or so of them, and all had driven down from Vancouver BC (or a suburb).

As much as I'd love to be able to see MLB in Portland (OR) I don't see it working, it would take a huge bite out of the Mariners territory.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Talent will be diluted by definition, there is no way around that. The question is whether talent has been concentrated enough since the last expansion that the dilution will reset the talent level to an acceptable level. I have no doubt fewer kids are playing baseball (or any sport, for that matter, given all the choices), but with that also has come technology to create better youth leagues and training and, crucially, more and more international talent. I'm biased but I think it's the right time to expand and two more teams should be the minimum under consideration. Nashville, SLC, Montreal, Mexico City.
Maybe every bullpen will only have three guys who can throw 99?
 

simplicio

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I'm thinking MLB is tired of trying to plant seeds in Canada, beyond the current Toronto "token" - much less replanting in Montreal. Vancouver might be a better excursion, but Seattle wouldn't support that, of course, for geographic proximity. But that consideration doesn't necessarily mean much, given multi-team cities already in play.
The Seattle to Vancouver drive is like 10 minutes longer than Fenway to the Toilet.
 

axx

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If there was reason to think there was interest in baseball in Vancouver, I think it would work. Just don't think there is.
 

MFYankees

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I don't understand this way of thinking at all. Why can't every franchise put in a good faith effort and try to be competitive every year? No one is expecting a World Series every year and yes even the best laid plans don't always work out, but if you're an owner of a franchise and decide that you want to save some money and peddle it as some sort of "Desert Process" the fans don't owe you anything. You try, they respond with their money and time. That's the deal.
Yes, the "Desert Experience." We may be able to help with that.
 

Fred not Lynn

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The Seattle to Vancouver drive is like 10 minutes longer than Fenway to the Toilet.
With the added complication of a mandatory stop each direction that could be two minutes, or could be two hours…which if you packed the wrong stuff with you, or have anyone with even the slightest criminal record in the car could be costly or impassable.

Truth is, there’s interest in baseball in BC’s lower mainland, but it just isn’t a MLB market.

As much as I'd love to be able to see MLB in Portland (OR) I don't see it working, it would take a huge bite out of the Mariners territory.
My beef with Portland is that they’ve had and lost two AAA teams. That’s not a strong indicator that MLB would succeed there.

The other cool thing is that the state [Utah] is putting together a sort of entertainment district similar to what the Braves did but but without the racism. This one is planned for the west side of the city which is closer to where most of the diversity and underrepresented communities are.
As I best understand it’s also connected to downtown, so best of both worlds. And I can say with a fair amount of confidence that any similarity to The Battery (Atlanta/Cobb County) is not coincidence. I imaging a new NBA/NHL arena will be part of the complex too.

Also from a timeline perspective - any new stadia/ arenas built for SLC has motivation to be completed in time for Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games in February, 2034.
 
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Fred not Lynn

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Utah Legislature approves Fairpark District, framework for MLB ballpark funding

I'm not a fan of public financing for stadiums but I am a fan of getting a team here so I'll probably just stay internally conflicted on this one.
The problem with public funding is that it comes with a bunch of questionable “feasibility” and “financial benefit” bullshit. If they just went with basically what you said; “I want nice stuff in my city, nice stuff costs money and I’m willing to pay”, and were honest about it - I think it would be fine.

The other thing going for Utah is that the state is on the brink of leveraging the 2002 investment into a whole other Olympic Games at a fraction of the capital cost. Use that to justify the ballpark/Olympic venue…

The Battery style developments seem to be popular today, and this one will definitely be like The Battery - hopefully not just a clone, but a next-gen interation of the concept.

And in anticipation of, “It’s a ballpark, what good is it for the Winter Olympics?”; For one, ceremonies, but more creatively (if it’s a retractable roof), medal round ice hockey….and in anticipation of, “BUT THE SIGHTLINES!”, you’re building from the ground up. The architects will sort that - and you’ve got a built in NHL Winter Classic venue all set for future use.

Only opportunity I feel like might be being missed is to integrate the NHL/NBA arena into the same complex. The Glendale setup in Arizona is a great setup, except for it being in Glendale. Adjacent to downtown like this SLC proposal would be a totally different dynamic.

(I also think the Atlanta NHL proposal should be an arena at The Battery in Cobb County, not whatever other suburb it’s proposed for)
 
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