Expansion Looms For U.S. Sports – But When?

Comments

Expansion talk has started heating up in the NBA, NHL and MLB, with the NFL the only major US sports league that seems settled for awhile.

At the recent Major League Baseball All Star Game, league Commissioner Rob Manfred went on record as saying he’d like to expand the sport to 32 franchises and then re-align teams based more on geography rather than tradition.

Complicating the expansion scenario is the fact that two teams – the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics – need new stadiums and are in the process of taking their plans to the voters in their respective cities. Should they be rebuffed, either team could be also be a long-shot candidate for relocation.

Potential MLB Expansion Cities

Portland: The largest city in the US with only one franchise in the ‘Big Four’ leagues (NBA’s Trail Blazers), there is a cashed-up group that includes Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and his wife, singer Ciara ready to bring another MLB team to the Pacific Northwest.

Montreal: The Expos left town for good in 2004, but the Canadian city has a long tradition and there is a movement to bring baseball back. The Toronto Blue Jays draw very well when they play exhibition games here.

Mexico City: Positives include a long baseball history, good attendance for MLB games and the glamour of breaking into another international market. Negatives include travel and logistics, plus the Trump administration’s current attitude towards Mexico.

Nashville: One of the fastest-growing cities in the US and one with a successful minor league team. With the NFL’s Titans and the NHL’s Predators, there might not be room for another big pro sports team.

Charlotte: The minor league Knights have been successful for a long time and the city has a fair amount of corporate support.

Other Leagues

NFL
Currently: Very happy with current 32 team setup.
Possibility: No expansion, but Jacksonville will probably end up playing more games in London. A full-time move to the English capital is unlikely in the short term.

NBA
Currently: 30 teams, don’t seem to be in a hurry to add more.
Possibility: After being burned by the move to OKC, Seattle would probably be first cab off the rank, although the city needs a suitable venue. Other potential expansion teams could land in Las Vegas, Louisville or Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.

NHL
Currently: 31 teams, would like to add another.
Possibility: Seattle has already taken steps to acquire an expansion team, and they’re currently looking at ways to update Key Arena. The league also has a problem child known as the Arizona Coyotes – they could be a candidate for relocation, with Quebec City, Houston or Seattle a possibility.

What do you think?