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MLB evaluating future expansion: Manfred

Major League Baseball logoWe’ve been hearing whispers about this for months, and now Commissioner Rob Manfred confirms that Major League Baseball is evaluating whether the sport should expand by two teams in coming years.

Expanding by two teams — as well as expanding the minor leagues as well — solves a number of issues for the sport, including scheduling, balance (one team in each league provides for 32 teams) and media exposure. And with several markets potentially capable of hosting MLB baseball — Montreal, San Antonio (yes, we’ve heard there’s an owner interested in the market), Las Vegas, Portland — the time is right to plan for expansion several years down the line. From the Los Angeles Times:

“I’m open to the idea,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday.

Manfred, speaking to the Baseball Writers Assn. of America, said the league is evaluating the feasibility of cities interested in hosting a major league team. He declined to identify those cities.

“I think we are a growth business,” Manfred said.

Now, this isn’t to say there are multiple markets that could host MLB next year. Indeed, this is a long-term play. While there are temporary facilities in Montreal (Olympic Stadium) and San Antonio (Alamodome) that could host Major League Baseball, those cities would require new ballparks. So would Las Vegas and Portland, which both lack usable temporary facilities. And any MLB expansion would require some deep-pocketed owners, who could work on new-ballpark projects while losing money playing in temporary facilities, forking over MLB expansion fees and probably forgoing a full share of national media revenues at first.

Still, Manfred today confirms what we’ve been reporting here for several months: expansion is not out of the question. There’s certainly a trickle-down effect in Minor League Baseball as well, as any new teams will require new farm teams. Given that MiLB teams have been selling for record prices in the next few years and the industry has never been stronger, this certainly isn’t the worst time to be looking at 10 or so new teams entering MiLB — there are certainly markets out there in certain leagues.

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