MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says Las Vegas could be a potential Major League Baseball market down the road — if or when MLB ever looks at expansion once Tampa Bay and Oakland settle their ballpark issues.
Potential expansion down the road has been discussed for years now, but the topic has emerged from the shadows to something not rejected in public by MLB types. Expanding to 32 teams makes a lot of sense when it comes to scheduling, and the sport certainly is healthy enough to split revenues with two new teams.
What most folks don’t realize is what an undertaking expansion is. We’re talking more than two new teams and ballparks (that’s $2 billion right there), but we’re talking about two new farm teams and at least 10 new Minor League Baseball teams. You’re talking two new scouting and development staffs, and you’re talking two more spring-training and development complexes. You are talking about billions and billions of new spending in the baseball industry — which is why this is a very serious topic for the likes of Rob Manfred.
So when he discusses Montreal and Las Vegas as potential expansion markets, it’s OK to parse his words, because we’re pretty sure he chose them very carefully. In the case of Vegas, Manfred made it clear baseball’s old objections to anything related to Sin City were out the door. From the Chicago Tribune:
“If we were looking at relocation,” Manfred said, “Las Vegas would be on the list.”…
“Those are two big moves,” Manfred said during an annual meeting with a group of sports editors at league headquarters. “We’ll be watching that carefully.”
Manfred didn’t rule out the possibility of an expansion franchise in Las Vegas, but added that “until the Tampa Bay and Oakland situations are settled, I can’t see talking about expansion.”
Once the Tampa Bay and Oakland situations are settled — perhaps by the end of the year, to a great extent — let the expansion talk begin. There’s no shortage of cities that could support Major League Baseball (Montreal, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Portland), so the discussion should be intense.