Although Major League Baseball is sitting on their hands right now with a potential lockout, it doesn’t mean the discussion of expansion needs to rest. If MLB decides to explore expansion, several cities will make their case. But this is why Portland is an ideal spot for an MLB team.
Today, Major League Baseball has perfect symmetry of 30 teams split evenly among the American and National League. The sport last expanded in 1998 with the introduction of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays. The Diamondbacks took only four years before winning a championship over the New York Yankees in 2001.
Portland’s good news and bad news is that MLB is currently planning on expansion, but they aren’t shutting the door on it entirely. MLB’s priority is figuring out the situation in Tampa and Oakland with their stadium concerns.
After that’s settled, it may be time to expand to 32. The commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, said that Portland would be on the shortlist if they did grow. So, if it’s on the commissioner’s radar, there may be hope after all.
If expansion isn’t in the cards, relocation is another option. Franchises move around all the time, although it doesn’t happen nearly as much in baseball. The last franchise to bolt was the Montreal Expos moving to Washington in 2005.
The two most likely scenarios are the teams in Tampa and Oakland due to the stadium concerns. Both cities are exploring possible solutions, with relocation being a good option. If baseball is coming to Portland, you can take that as a win. But, if it’s a winning franchise like the A’s or Rays, you know it will be a rousing success.
Now that the blueprint is clear, why does Portland deserve an MLB franchise? Portland sports teams always have the backing of a passionate fanbase. Part of the reason teams like Tampa are struggling is the lack of fan support.
Even though players like Wander Franco are a once-in-a-lifetime talent, kids aren’t wearing his jersey or grabbing a bat and imitating his stance on the playground. Meanwhile, the city has made a soccer team in the Portland Timbers one of the most popular sports teams, and Damian Lillard is the town’s adopted son.
Market Size & New Stadium
One obstacle to overcome is building a stadium. Portland is one of the top 25 cities in terms of market size, and it keeps rising due to the popularity of the Pacific northwest destination. Therefore, a new stadium may lead to other opportunities for the cities.
Having a cutting-edge stadium attracts the greatest attractions in the entertainment world. Some areas are perfect for a stadium, such as the Esco site in Northwest Portland, so it’s not like there aren’t options.
That’s why Portland is an ideal spot for an MLB team. Baseball is ready for expansion or relocation, and the fanbase and city’s infrastructure can take it on. It would be a missed opportunity for MLB to look elsewhere when they go that route.