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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

MLB expansion? MLBPA chief Tony Clark hopeful league can get to ‘a world of 32 teams’

“We are hopeful ... that we can find ourselves in a world of 32 teams rather than 30,” MLB Players’ Association executive director Tony Clark told reporters Tuesday, including the Los Angeles Times. That comes less than a month after commissioner Rob Manfred said he “would love to get to 32 teams” in an ESPN profile.

MLB last expanded in 1998, when the (Devil) Rays and Diamondbacks joined the league. We are currently in MLB’s longest expansion drought since the league first expanded in 1961. There are no shortage of viable expansion cities (Charlotte, Montreal, Nashville, Portland, Las Vegas, etc.) or prospective owners. Owning an MLB team is very lucrative and many people want in. 

The biggest issue standing in the way of expansion is the Athletics and Rays, specifically their ballpark situations. Manfred has said those two clubs need new stadiums before MLB can consider expanding. Part of that is leverage—MLB wants to continue using Las Vegas as a relocation option as Oakland seeks a new park in the Bay Area, for example—and part of it is just doing what’s right.

“The condition of the Coliseum is a really serious problem for us,” Manfred said Tuesday (per the Los Angeles Times). “(Approval for the Howard Terminal project) needs to happen now. It needs to be done. There needs to be a binding agreement done in Oakland quickly.”

Last year Manfred suggested MLB could seek an expansion franchise fee north of $2 billion, which would equal a massive cash infusion for the 30 current owners.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 04:20 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: expansion

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 19, 2022 at 04:56 PM (#6087413)
There are no shortage of viable expansion cities (Charlotte, Montreal, Nashville, Portland, Las Vegas, etc.) or prospective owners.
Really? Which of those jurisdictions are committed to providing a state-of-the-art MLB stadium, and are there any prospective owners who’d pay for all or most of it themselves if necessary?
   2. Walt Davis Posted: July 19, 2022 at 05:03 PM (#6087414)
I still don't get it. Per Forbes, there are only 13 franchises currently worth $2B or more. The Jays are an expansion team with nearly 50 years in, have the entirety of Canada as their TV market and a local metro population in excess of 6 M and they have a valuation under $2B. The other large-market expansion teams -- Rangers, Nats, Astros -- are right on the $2B mark. Seattle and San Diego are around the Jays at $1.75B; the Rox and DBacks are below $1.5B.

With the exception of the Cards (good) and the Fla franchises (bad), franchise value and market size track pretty closely. None of the proposed expansion locations is particularly large except Montreal at 4.3 M. Maybe Nashville, Charlotte, or LV will grow to be that large; Charlotte has a lot of corporate HQ which might help; LV has its attractions and tourists which might help. But is there any good reason to think any of these franchises will be more success than Toronto, Seattle, Denver?

So why would somebody spend $2B to buy an asset worth less than $2B? And if they did, why would they do anything except be the next Pirates and cash their common and shared revenue checks while running a payroll of $40 M? I know billionaires have egos but it's not like Steve Cohen overpaid. In fact, Cohen paid $2.45B for the Mets ... why would anybody pay $2B for the Nashville Dollies?
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 19, 2022 at 05:09 PM (#6087415)
hich of those jurisdictions are committed to providing a state-of-the-art MLB stadium, and are there any prospective owners who’d pay for all or most of it themselves if necessary?


Nashville, Portland, and I believe Montreal have ownership groups. Now a stadium, that's a different matter.
   4. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: July 19, 2022 at 06:15 PM (#6087422)
Maybe they should work on improving the product and existing ownership groups first, so that, for example, people actually go to games in:

Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Oakland.

I hate to say it, but Tony Clark and the MLBPA have been highly resistant to improving things like pace-of-play. They also haven't been helpful in supporting the minor leagues. Seems like they should be supportive of growing the game, but MLBPA has consistently taken the short-term view, possibly even worse than the owners.
   5. Hank Gillette Posted: July 19, 2022 at 08:20 PM (#6087431)
32 teams could make things a lot better in regards to scheduling. They could go back to eight-team leagues with a 154 game schedule. Each league could play within their own league and one of the others, rotating yearly. The first and second finishers could play the second and first finishers in one of the other leagues, again rotating through which league they hook up with. That would give three rounds of playoffs, which should be enough if every series was seven games.
   6. Hank Gillette Posted: July 19, 2022 at 08:23 PM (#6087432)
I still don't get it. Per Forbes, there are only 13 franchises currently worth $2B or more. The Jays are an expansion team with nearly 50 years in, have the entirety of Canada as their TV market and a local metro population in excess of 6 M and they have a valuation under $2B. The other large-market expansion teams -- Rangers, Nats, Astros -- are right on the $2B mark. Seattle and San Diego are around the Jays at $1.75B; the Rox and DBacks are below $1.5B.


I don’t get it either. They would probably exclude the new teams from the shared television revenue for several years as well.

This is just unmitigated greed on the part of the owners, yet they try to cast the players as the greedy ones.

   7. bookbook Posted: July 19, 2022 at 10:48 PM (#6087447)
The expansion fee should be $1.25 Billion, with the further commitment required of $750 cash on hand to invest in the franchise.

MLB is too shortsighted to do expansion right.
   8. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 19, 2022 at 10:53 PM (#6087448)
It results in a short-term cash infusion for the 30 teams. Duh.
   9. bookbook Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:19 AM (#6087456)
No duh. But investing in the long term health of the product requires ongoing development in every market.
   10. Bruce Chen's Huge Panamanian Robot Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:41 AM (#6087459)
Montreal had its shot. They don't care about baseball there.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:55 AM (#6087460)
The expansion fee should be $1.25 Billion, with the further commitment required of $750 cash on hand to invest in the franchise.
Come on, $750 is way too much to ask. It’s unfair when existing teams like the A’s and the Marlins only invest about $10.95. That’s like 75 times as much!
   12. Ron J Posted: July 20, 2022 at 01:24 AM (#6087461)
#10 Don't be silly. Montreal's ownership group spent years telling the locals they had no intention of attempting to compete. Montreal responded like basically any other market in this position.

They're a smallish market and hockey's definitely the number one sport in the market, but there was nothing unusual about their revenue or attendance.

I mean the spiral started in 1995 and that year they out-drew the Mets, Padres, Giants and Pirates. Next year they out-drew the Pirates and Giants. In 1997 the only team with worse attendance was the Phillies. Then it finally collapsed -- when they were clearly just fielding a team to collect on the revenue sharing. (And had stopped doing things like promoting the team in Ottawa -- which provided a fair number of the fans)

Montreal won't be a wonderful market but a responsibly run team will do OK.
   13. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: July 20, 2022 at 01:56 AM (#6087462)
I wonder if, starting from today, if a franchise in Oakland or Montreal has a better chance of succeeding, even if Montreal keeps the Dome, or maybe just uses it for early and late season games and constructs a simple outdoor stadium for the summer. The thing about Montreal, during the summer folks love to be outside. A baseball stadium is nice for that.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 20, 2022 at 02:24 AM (#6087463)
constructs a simple outdoor stadium for the summer.
Víve le Parc Jarry!
   15. John Reynard Posted: July 20, 2022 at 04:29 AM (#6087466)
I wonder if, starting from today, if a franchise in Oakland or Montreal has a better chance of succeeding, even if Montreal keeps the Dome, or maybe just uses it for early and late season games and constructs a simple outdoor stadium for the summer. The thing about Montreal, during the summer folks love to be outside. A baseball stadium is nice for that.


I don't think Stade Olympique is capable of being an MLB stadium anymore without substantive renovations. It has been a few years since I was there. But, it looked shady for tractor pulls and stuff when I was.
   16. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: July 20, 2022 at 06:21 AM (#6087468)
Montreal and Brooklyn.

And you're done.
   17. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 20, 2022 at 10:00 AM (#6087472)
32 teams could make things a lot better in regards to scheduling. They could go back to eight-team leagues with a 154 game schedule. Each league could play within their own league and one of the others, rotating yearly. The first and second finishers could play the second and first finishers in one of the other leagues, again rotating through which league they hook up with. That would give three rounds of playoffs, which should be enough if every series was seven games.
The owners and Manfred appear to value one month of postseason baseball way more than the six months of the regular season, which is why a four-division plan doesn't seem likely.

My guess is that the preference would be for four rounds of postseason play, due to eight four-team divisions and two wildcards (and two division-winner byes), much like the NFL had prior to the virus.

Oh, and going down this road almost certainly results in radical realignment.
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 20, 2022 at 10:06 AM (#6087473)
Montreal and Brooklyn.

And you're done.


Brooklyn makes zero sense . There's no chance of even a partially publicly funded stadium, and it's got to be about the most expensive place in the country to build. You think someone's going to spend $2B on a team, and another $2B on a stadium, in order to be largely ignored by NY baseball fans?
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 20, 2022 at 10:08 AM (#6087474)
The owners and Manfred appear to value one month of postseason baseball way more than the six months of the regular season, which is why a four-division plan doesn't seem likely.

My guess is that the preference would be for four rounds of postseason play, due to eight four-team divisions and two wildcards (and two division-winner byes), much like the NFL had prior to the virus.

Oh, and going down this road almost certainly results in radical realignment.


Four eight-team divisions, eight wildcards. Four division winners get byes in the three-game fist round. Five-gave second round, Seven-game LCSs and WS. Easy peasy.
   20. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 20, 2022 at 10:18 AM (#6087475)
Easy peasy.
And way queasy.

At that point, the regular season is no longer meaningful in just about any sense.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: July 20, 2022 at 10:18 AM (#6087476)
“We are hopeful ... that we can find ourselves in a world of 32 teams rather than 30,” MLB Players’ Association executive director Tony Clark told reporters
#### you
   22. Russ Posted: July 20, 2022 at 11:10 AM (#6087477)
At that point, the regular season is no longer meaningful in just about any sense.


Just call it the Walmart World Series Cup, and start the elimination rounds from the beginning of the season. Then give a much bigger prestigious Target Trophy to the team who wins the most games in the regular season. Done and done. The European Footballization of the MLB. MLB keeps trying to be like basketball and American football, but European football makes much more sense as something to model. You could even run two different elimination competitions depending on standings from the previous season concurrently to the regular season between the top half and bottom half of teams.

   23. Nasty Nate Posted: July 20, 2022 at 11:16 AM (#6087479)
MLB keeps trying to be like basketball and American football, but European football makes much more sense as something to model.
I think American baseball would be the best thing to emulate: long regular season, and just a few teams play in series to determine the league champions, who then play in a series to determine the overall champion. No tournament.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: July 20, 2022 at 11:26 AM (#6087480)
At that point, the regular season is no longer meaningful in just about any sense.


It's the same number of playoff teams we have now, with two extra teams in the league. If the season makes no sense then, we're already there.
   25. Mr Dashwood Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:24 PM (#6087485)
I no longer follow it as closely as I once did, but I think the 'ownership group' in Montréal has made it fairly clear that they don't have the resources to fund an expansion franchise with a new ballpark. They are basically out to capture an existing franchise.

Having said that, I'm not convinced Montréal is really a viable market any more. The costs of entry are too high for what it can generate in revenue.

* * * *

Now that the DH is universal, I don't see the point of the leagues as they are. Before embarking on expansion, I would prefer to see a realignment, more along NHL lines, where it is basically geographical but not entirely so. (Eg, the Atlantic division, which includes such well-known Atlantic ports as Detroit and Toronto, plus Ottawa. Thanks, St Lawrence Seaway!)

   26. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:25 PM (#6087486)
It's the same number of playoff teams we have now, with two extra teams in the league. If the season makes no sense then, we're already there.
Except in this format we'll endure occasional seasons with division winners with losing records. No, thanks.
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:45 PM (#6087488)
32 teams gives you better scheduling & playoff options than 30, but It’s not happening anytime soon. The available markets are marginal, and none of the jurisdictions are making commitments on stadiums, as far as I can tell. I can’t see that changing if we head into a recession, which would likely also affect the willingness & ability of potential expansion owners to pony up a billion or two to join the club.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: July 20, 2022 at 12:46 PM (#6087489)
It’s four eight-team divisions, not eight four-team ones. We’re more likely to see a division winner with a losing record now than what snapper proposed.
   29. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: July 20, 2022 at 01:41 PM (#6087494)
We’re more likely to see a division winner with a losing record now than what snapper proposed.
I misread Snapper's comment, which was better but hardly ideal. In any event, I'm guessing eight four-team divisions, à la the NFL, is a more likely outcome.
   30. Der-K's tired of these fruits from poisoned trees Posted: July 20, 2022 at 02:25 PM (#6087499)
i would love expansion to 32 teams. for a great many reasons, i don't expect it anytime in the foreseeable future.
   31. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 20, 2022 at 02:32 PM (#6087503)
The expansion fee should be $1.25 Billion, with the further commitment required of $750 cash on hand to invest in the franchise.

Hell, I've got $750 in walkin' round cash to invest in a new Montreal franchise. Deal me in!

--------------

Víve le Parc Jarry!

Best little ballpark I ever visited. In the game I was at, Willie Stargell hit a moon shot home run that landed in a public swimming pool and scattered the swimmers.
   32. Ron J Posted: July 20, 2022 at 02:43 PM (#6087506)
162 game season for seeding purposes. 32 one team divisions so everybody gets a pennant and makes the playoffs.

It'll be great.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: July 20, 2022 at 05:22 PM (#6087520)
154 game schedule

Folks often propose this as if it's something easy. That's a 5% reduction in the number of games. Do you think owners want a 5% reduction in local revenue?** Do you think they want to give 5% back to the RSNs? Do you think the players want a 5% reduction in salaries?

Now if the loss of regular season games results in an increase in postseason games then the owners (at least the small market ones) will be in favor; the national broadcasters will be in favor. The local broadcasters are still not happy and the players are still not happy. If the extra playoff revenue is more than enough, you can give the local broadcasters their 5% refund. You could handle the current players by grandfathering all existing contracts (not sure you'd have a choice) but they'll still realize that all future contracts will be 5% lower. So now you've got to let the players in on the playoff revenue in a much bigger way, something the owners don't want.

"You now what we should do? Offer less of our product!" is not a commonly successful business strategy. Granted if only 3 diners show up on Monday nights, you're probably losing money on Monday nights so you're better off closed ... not a good sign for baseball.

** Obviously this would be less than 5% as you drop mid-week games, travel day afternoon games, etc. But if you're doing it to squeeze in an extra week of playoffs where the last week of the season would be then you're playing the same schdule for those 154 games.
   34. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 20, 2022 at 06:06 PM (#6087529)
The owners and Manfred appear to value one month of postseason baseball way more than the six months of the regular season

Sure they do. Those pesky players have to be paid during the regular season while they work for (essentially) free in the playoffs which are a huge windfall for ownership.
   35. GregD Posted: July 20, 2022 at 07:27 PM (#6087537)
The expansion fee should be $1.25 Billion, with the further commitment required of $750 cash on hand to invest in the franchise.

MLB is too shortsighted to do expansion right.


Probably this is true in terms of the accounting.

But MLB owners may well be right that out of 4-5 cities they can get the number closer to $2 billion. You've got owners' egos, scarcity, perception (one day may turn out to be false) that value always rises. It's also likely some of the cities will have people involved who see their public face of bringing baseball to the city will increase their civic stature/political viability. Surely some of these people are valuing a team in "their" city higher than they would ownership of a team in another city.

   36. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: July 20, 2022 at 07:51 PM (#6087540)
So I guess my dream of seeing the minors released from associations with specific MLB teams, and restarting the whole shebang with a European-style tiered system with promotions and demotions, and not just the current majors and minors, but like twenty-six levels of tiers going all the way down to things like "West Bumblehammingtonham South Side Hooperstomper Street Blue Houses Weekend League" is probably a non-starter, huh?
   37. Walt Davis Posted: July 20, 2022 at 11:55 PM (#6087556)
#35 ... sure, but those people already exist, have bought teams in the past ... and didn't value all those other aspects enough to fork over $2B for the Marlins. Cohen got the Mets for just $2.5B. Montfort got the Rox franchise for $95 M 30 years ago. Now they're worth 14 times that now which is pretty good return for 30 years :-) ... though they were supposedly only worth about 5 times that after the first 20 years.

So you can see what MLB is thinking but still "pay $2B for an asset worth $1B that might well be worth $2.5 B a decade from now" is still not a great deal given what investing the $2B elsewhere would get you after 10 years.
   38. Hank Gillette Posted: July 21, 2022 at 03:25 PM (#6087635)
Having said that, I'm not convinced Montréal is really a viable market any more. The costs of entry are too high for what it can generate in revenue.


With those entry costs, what city is a viable market any more? I’d guess that more than have the cities with ML franchises wouldn’t be viable if they did not already have a team.
   39. Hank Gillette Posted: July 21, 2022 at 03:31 PM (#6087637)
Brooklyn makes zero sense . There's no chance of even a partially publicly funded stadium, and it's got to be about the most expensive place in the country to build. You think someone's going to spend $2B on a team, and another $2B on a stadium, in order to be largely ignored by NY baseball fans?
You might be right about the finances, but what makes you think Brooklyn would not support a team?

The fact is, the most viable locations for expansion franchises would be a third team in NY (maybe not Brooklyn), and a third team in the LA area. Due to giving teams territory rights, this will never happen, but that would be the logical places to put new teams: where the people are.
   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2022 at 03:33 PM (#6087639)
You might be right about the finances, but what makes you think Brooklyn would not support a team?

All the most interested baseball fans, and most of the casual ones are already Yankee or Mets fans. Why are they going to switch? If a new team comes to an unoccupied market, having a home town think is a new thing, and attracts interest. In NY, why would people want to follow the new team? Maybe over 20 years you grow a fanbase, but that's not going to support the team financially today.
   41. Cris E Posted: July 25, 2022 at 05:35 PM (#6088221)
Do horses still run at Aquaduct? They already have a casino and parking out there and the transportation is in place for the airport, so it's just a matter of waving some big cash at the 14 racing fans still in existence. You could probably get one of the casino groups to write the check.
   42. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 25, 2022 at 05:57 PM (#6088224)
The fact is, the most viable locations for expansion franchises would be a third team in NY (maybe not Brooklyn), and a third team in the LA area.
A 2nd team in the Dallas area would be even better. It’d give the locals a chance to build another new stadium - they love doing that.
   43. McCoy Posted: July 25, 2022 at 06:29 PM (#6088228)
Baseball's revenue is such that a baseball team anywhere can be supported by national contracts virtually anywhere in America.

Want to play in Boise? Cool. Here's 150 million a year. Have fun. So a team in NYC can certainly pay the bills and stick their hands out for a tax payer funded home.
   44. McCoy Posted: July 25, 2022 at 06:31 PM (#6088229)
Local broadcasters might try to leverage an 8 game reduction into a cost savings but when the choice is no content or 154 games worth of content someone will pony up to have it.

But 8 games is nothing. If they are cutting the schedule they should start with 144 games and then look into cutting the season down to like 80 games. 4 games a week from May through September and then the playoffs in September. If they are expanding the playoffs then I'd throw in some 5 game weeks in the middle of the season.
   45. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: July 25, 2022 at 06:45 PM (#6088231)
Sure they do. Those pesky players have to be paid during the regular season while they work for (essentially) free in the playoffs which are a huge windfall for ownership.


last year, the WS winning braves each got ~$400,000 for 16 games. So about $4 mil for a full season by comparison. A lot of players make less than $4 mil for the season, so only for the highest paid players is it a relative pittance. but of course, that's the top pay. The Dodgers each got $113,000 for 12 games.

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