Sat 27 Oct, 2007 08:40 pm
Should the Major Leagues expand again? I think expanding to include Tampa Bay and Phoenix is enough.
If they expand agian, they should put a franchise in Buffalo and one in New Orleans.
What do you guys think?
Expansion tends to happen when you have a few things converge. One is very high minor league game attendance in an area not close (e. g. within reasonable driving distance) of a major league team which is not selling out. Another is potential ownership groups (more than one is nice because that helps to allay monopoly questions -- baseball is a lil sensitive to that) who are committed to trying for a good team and not just out to make a buck and fleece the locals. Good TV markets help.
For example: the Rockies were a great candidate for expansion because they fit the geographical/minor league attendance off the charts mold more or less perfectly. With good ownership committed to growing the ball club (they may be losing to the Red Sox right now, but the Rockies have a lot of good homegrown talent and should be a decent NL team for a while), that looks like a fantastic choice in retrospect.
Here in New England, we have terrific minor league attendance but a lot of that's due to the Red Sox being sold out all the time, as Fenway is very small. That's not evidence of a need for expansion of teams, that's evidence of a need for expansion of the ballpark. Since Fenway is an historic landmark (or if it isn't, it sure as hell should be), the stadium won't be torn down (plus, Fenway itself is a destination for a lot of people). Rather, more building will be done on the stadium as it is. Look for, in the next few years, another tier or two thrown up around the stadium. But probably not a new major league club in Pawtucket, despite the attendance there. Also, Pawtucket isn't a separate TV market; it's more of a Boston-Hartford combo.
As for Indianapolis, the TV market is eh (think Green Bay for football). So it would have to have very good minor league attendance (the geographic part is already assured -- I believe the closest major league teams are in Detroit, Chicago and possibly St. Louis or Cleveland). So, is there minor league interest? There have to be some folks who aren't interested in the Speedway, but are there enough to put together a successful minor league team?
Note: there are probably other factors (such as whether a city will put up a bond initiative to build a stadium, etc.) but those three: minor league attendance, geography and ownership, loom pretty large. I doubt that a bond initiative goes on the table until those other conditions are satisfied.