It is a matter of time before Major League Baseball expands once again. While the focus is on finding new stadiums for the A’s and Rays, there are plenty of cities lining up for the 31st and 32nd MLB franchise. Nashville, Charlotte, Montreal, and Portland have all been listed as possible landing spots, with other cities potentially in the mix.
Now there is another entry. Former Orlando Magic executive Pat Williams is looking to bring a major league team to the city. His plans either involve bringing in the Rays or landing an expansion team.
Orlando does not make sense for MLB
Relocating the Rays could make sense. Although they have been drawing more fans due to their hot start, there is no question that the franchise needs a new stadium. Tropicana Field is outdated and in a horrendous location. In theory, that new ballpark, paired with an exciting team with a history of contending, would be a great match.
The real question is how viable regular season baseball really is in Florida. The Rays have had an uptick in attendance, but are not exactly packing the Trop. It is not just the Rays that have had attendance issues – the Marlins have barely been relevant on the attendance front either. Even their last championship season in 2003 saw fewer than 20,000 fans per game. Considering how many retirees head to Florida, and their built-in fandoms, this should not be a surprise.
At this point, it is fair to wonder if regular season baseball is viable in Florida. Spring training works perfectly well, but there are plenty of questions as to whether or not the Rays and Marlins have enough of a fanbase. Adding a third team in Florida, and one that would be relatively close to the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area where the Rays theoretically could stay, is not the best option.
Major League Baseball will expand soon enough. However, if MLB does head to Orlando, it should be a matter of relocation.