Southern Cities Favored to Land MLB Expansion Teams by Oddsmakers

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Getty MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Major League Baseball expansion is coming, not necessarily soon, but likely sometime early in the next decade.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this month that he would like to begin the process of adding expansion teams before he plans to retire in 2029 when his current five-year term expires.

“I don’t think realistically those clubs would be playing before I’m finished,” Manfred told reporters on Feb. 15 during Grapefruit League Media Day in Tampa. “I would like to have the process in place and operating before I go.”

Odds have been set on what cities will get expansion teams. Nashville is a 3/1 favorite according to BetOnline. Following Nashville on the board are Charlotte (4/1), Portland (5/1), Salt Lake City (6/1), New Orleans (8/1), San Antonio (9/1) and Mexico City (10/1).

MLB would likely expand by two teams to bring its total to 32. The league hasn’t expanded since 1998 when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays were added.

Nashville Tops the List

That Nashville is favored to land an expansion team probably won’t surprise many involved in professional baseball. The city has been strongly positioning itself for a franchise in recent years.

What would set Nashville’s bid apart from other cities is that the team would be the first in MLB history owned by a group headed by minorities. Former major-league pitcher and general manager Dave Stewart, who is Black, is the point man for the group.

The team has also picked out a name, the Stars, in honor of the franchise that once represented Nashville in the Negro Leagues.

Stewart and the group also have a site picked out for a retractable roof stadium. It would sit on 200 acres off the Cumberland River across from Tennessee State University.

Nashville is the 26th-largest television market in the United States. That puts it ahead of six other cities with MLB franchises — Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

Charlotte Stands as Viable Market

Like Nashville, Charlotte is another growing city in the South and would be an attractive potential market for MLB.

Charlotte is the 21st-largest market in the United States. The two bigger markets without MLB teams are Orlando (16) and Sacramento (20).

Tom Dundon, owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, is leading an effort to bring MLB to North Carolina. He has owned the Hurricanes, based in Raleigh, since 2018.

Dundon also owns Pickleball Central, the world’s largest online retailer for the sport.

Charlotte does not have a plan in place for a potential stadium. However, Truist Field, home of the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate, is considered one of the best facilities in minor-league baseball and it could possibly be expanded.

Western Cities Could Get MLB

Two cities in the West, Portland and Salt Lake City, also are frequently mentioned as possible expansion candidates. Portland ranks 23rd among TV markets and Salt Lake City is 27th.

The Portland Baseball Group has been formed to gain an MLB team. It would like to buy the RedTail Golf Course in suburban Beaverton, Ore., and building a 164-acre mixed-used facility that would include a ballpark.

The Big League Utah coalition has been formed to land an expansion franchise for Salt Lake City. Its selling point is that Utah is the fastest-growing state in the country.

Big League Utah has targeted a 100-acre tract in the Rocky Mountain Power District for a proposed stadium.


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