MLB cannot expand until stadium situations in two markets are resolved.
Major League Baseball will be going into 2023 with the same problem it had in 2022, 2021 and 2020. What will we do with the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays as both businesses want new stadiums in the near future? The Athletics situation changed because of election day as there will be a new governor in Nevada and a new mayor in Oakland and that could bring the negotiations for a Las Vegas stadium or a waterfront Oakland baseball stadium-village back to square one. In St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Rays ownership has five years remaining on its lease and is free to leave St. Petersburg after the 2027 season. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t sound particularly enthusiastic that a new Tampa Bay area ballpark is on the horizon and said that Rays owner Stu Sternberg “described ongoing conversations across the Tampa Bay region.” Rays ownership struck out in an effort to build a stadium in Ybor City and a plan to split games between the Tampa Bay market and Montréal was shelved. MLB may have devalued the Tampa Bay market by claiming it was not a full-time viable baseball marketplace. MLB said the same thing about Montréal, hence the “Sister-City plan.”
Manfred would like to see MLB add two teams but MLB is stuck at the moment. “I think Tampa and the A’s need to get resolved,” Manfred recently said. “And then, depending on how that all lands, we’ll have a more realistic opportunity to assess whether and where to expand.” Manfred likes Las Vegas but it is a small market and there is a competition for sports dollars from the NHL’s Golden Knights, the NFL’s Raiders, Formula One, and there was no appetite from the soon to be former Governor Steve Sisolak to spend public dollars for a baseball stadium.
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