Posts Tagged ‘MLB Expansion’

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MIAMI (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to wait – to a point – for the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics to get new ballparks.

Tampa Bay and Oakland are the only two major league teams currently seeking new stadiums. The Rays have a lease through 2027 at Tropicana Field, which opened in 1990 and has hosted the Rays since the team started play in 1998.

The A’s have been at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since moving there from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The park opened in 1966.

”We right or wrongly have been extraordinarily committed to our existing markets and patient with those markets as a result,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. ”I continue to believe that Tampa is a viable major league market. I also believe it may be better than the alternatives that we have out there, and I am hopeful that we get to a resolution. As I’ve said to you before, however, there does come a point in time where we have to accept the reality that the market for whatever set of reasons can’t get to the point that they have a major league quality facility, and I am not going to indefinitely leave a club in a market without a major league quality facility.”

The Rays have been considering sites on both the St. Petersburg and Tampa sides of the bay.

”It really depends on progress, right?” Manfred said. ”At the point in time that it starts to grind to a halt and nothing’s happening – I don’t think we’re there, OK – but at that point in time where everybody’s kind of, you get this look of where are we going next, that’s when you’ve got to start thinking about what your alternatives are.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month the A’s are focusing on three locations. The paper said the team is strongly interested in a 13-acre site near downtown that currently is headquarters of the Peralta Community College District. The Chronicle also said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf favors Howard Terminal, north of Jack London Square, and the team is considering constructing a new ballpark at its current location, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

John Fisher was approved in November as the controlling owner of the Athletics.

”They’ve said they’re going to by the end of the year identify a site in Oakland that’s their preferred site,” Manfred said. ”I think that given the change in the control situation in Oakland that it was prudent for Mr. Fisher to take a year and make a decision as to what site he thinks is the best. That decision is a uniquely local decision. I really don’t believe it is my job to have a preference for those sites. They know their market better.”

Manfred said at a Town Hall on Monday that MLB will delay any plans for expansion until after the A’s and Rays get new ballparks. He mentioned Montreal, Mexico City and Charlotte, North Carolina, as expansion candidates.

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A return to Montreal, a Mexico debut, or a new team in the Carolinas are all potential future scenarios for Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday.

Speaking prior to the Home Run Derby in Miami, Manfred remained adamant the the league’s current priority is finding new stadiums for both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, but acknowledged he believes MLB could be sustainable in three other cities.

“I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said, according to Mark Newman of MLB.com. “Charlotte’s a possibility. And I’d like to think that Mexico City or some other place in Mexico would be a possibility.”

MLB hasn’t expanded since 1998 when the league added Tampa Bay and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and hasn’t relocated since the Expos left Montreal for Washington at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

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As Major League Baseball continues to mull the possibility of international expansion, commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he wants to see regular-season games played in Mexico City.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real-live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred told reporters, including MLB.com’s Richard Justice, ahead of Tuesday’s game between the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major Leauge team.”

Identified last year as a front-runner to land an expansion franchise, Mexico City hosted a two-game exhibition series in 2016 – the first MLB action in the Mexican capital in 12 years – and Manfred has said that “making a full-time commitment in Mexico would very important.” International regular-season play was jointly agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement, too, so the league could conceivably start scheduling games in Mexico City as soon as 2018.

“We’re hopeful that what we see in Mexico will continue to encourage us that that’s a possibility (for expansion),” Manfred said. “We also had a good experience with the (World Baseball Classic) in Mexico. The venue was a good one. It sold well. We had good crowds – another positive in terms of more Major League-level baseball in Mexico.”

Whether Mexico City remains a viable market for an MLB franchise, however, remains to be seen. Executives and economists are torn on the issue, and the ensuing logistics, though Mexican-born MLB players remain enamored of the possibility.

“I think all of Mexico would travel to wherever the team is,” Adrian Gonzalez, the five-time All-Star raised in Tijuana, told ESPN’s Thomas Neumann last year. “It would be a team for the whole country. I think for the most part, people from all over the country would make their way just for the games.”

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Rob Manfred isn’t holding his breath about Major League Baseball in Montreal, but he isn’t saying no.

Following a report Wednesday that a group of investors had satisfied the league’s conditions to bring a team back to the city, Manfred revealed Thursday the idea of a resurgence in Montreal has weighed on his mind.

“We’ve thought about Montreal a lot. We’ve had conversations with potential owners. The mayor of Montreal, I think, could be fairly characterized as a rabid baseball fan,” Manfred said on CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” show. “I’m not closed to the idea that we could return to Montreal – again, in the event that we get to relocation or expansion. I’m certainly open to that idea.

“But obviously the issues, largely facility issues, that led to the Expos leaving would have to be addressed before we’d be comfortable returning.”

The Expos played in Montreal for 35 years before uprooting in 2004 to Washington D.C. where they became the Nationals. As Manfred alludes, however, the franchise’s final seasons were plagued by mismanagement as the club failed to find funding for a new ballpark, leading to the league taking over the franchise outright in 2002 and then playing some home games in Puerto Rico in 2003.

Baseball fans in Montreal will get another taste of big-league action this weekend, as the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates will visit the city to begin a two-game series Friday at Olympic Stadium.

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With the National Hockey League expanding to Las Vegas at the start of next season, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged Tuesday that his league could also see a franchise in Sin City in the future.

“Las Vegas could be a viable market for us,” Manfred told reporters, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I don’t think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city.”

Due to its close ties to gambling, Las Vegas had long been considered a no-go for professional franchises, but things have changed in recent years with the NHL, and possibly the NFL, seeing the city as a strong market.

With a population of over 623,000, Las Vegas is the 28th-most populated city in the United States, and with millions of tourists traveling to the city each year, it’s likely that a professional sports team could be sustainable.

MLB does currently have some ties with the city. The New York Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s, are located downtown, while the last two National League MVPs, Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper, were both born there.

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Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is not only a fan of keeping the game fun, but he’d also like to see it make strides in expansion.

Manfred told CSN Chicago on Thursday he’d “love to see” MLB expand after a new labor deal is finalized, and stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland are resolved, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

Manfred named Montreal and Mexico City as the front-runners for possible expansion sites, with the latter holding considerable interest to the league. “Mexico City, in particular, would be new ground for us,” he said.

Montreal sold out two exhibition games between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox prior to the 2016 campaign, showing that passion for the sport remains high in the Canadian city.

Manfred thinks expanding the league to 32 teams is inevitable.

“I have said publicly that I think baseball’s a growth sport, a growth business, that sooner or later growth businesses expand,” Manfred told The Associated Press on April 21. “If we were to expand, I do think a city that makes sense geographically – meaning in terms of realistic travel distances and is outside of the 48 contiguous states – would be positive choice for us in terms of growing the game.”

The Expos were members of the National League from 1969-2004 before the franchise moved to Washington and took on the Nationals moniker.

After a 12-year hiatus, Mexico City hosted two spring games between the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres in January.

Portland has also been named as a potential expansion destination by Manfred in the past.

Speaking with reporters ahead of Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati, commissioner Rob Manfred flirted with the possibility that Major League Baseball could one day feature more than 30 teams.

“Maybe one of the reasons I got this job is, I’m bullish on this game,” Manfred said. “I think we are a growth business, broadly defined. And over an extended period of time, growth businesses look to get bigger. So yeah, I’m open to the idea that there will be a point in time where expansion may be possible.”

The league hasn’t expanded since the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were inaugurated in 1998, but Manfred spouted off a number of cities that could be viable destinations for expansion.

Manfred added that the league will “examine their viability” to determine if those cities would be well-suited for relocation of a current franchise, like Tampa Bay or the Oakland Athletics, plagued by lousy attendance and/or stadium woes.

Though Montreal, home of baseball’s first Canadian franchise, is often cited as a potential destination when expansion is broached, Manfred stressed the city’s need for a new stadium before that possibility can be seriously considered.

“The mayor is an enthusiastic supporter of bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said. “I happen to believe that Montreal has a great baseball history, which is a nice thing. And the market wildly supported two exhibition games in each of the last two years. Having said all that, it’s a long ways from two exhibition games to 81 home games in a facility that is consistent with major league standards.”