Friday, July 12, 2019

Relocation: Saving Franchises that Can't Bring in Fans 7/12/19

Hey baseball fans!

I've talked about potential MLB expansion before on Baseball with Matt and I just discussed the Rays playing in Montreal, but let's talk about relocation in general.

It's no secret that Major League Baseball has an attendance problem. Commissioner Manfred, MLB Network, ESPN, and baseball fanatics everywhere are aware of this problem wholeheartedly. But digging deeper into the problem, you may find the following: 18 teams bring in an average of 25,000 fans per game in 2019. The teams on the lower end of that range are problematic, but 25,000 fans for 81 games trumps the amount of fans any NBA, NFL, or NHL team might attract in a season by a long shot, no matter how you look at it. Yes, I'm aware that MLB attendance is declining and that this decline is a bigger problem than just generally bad attendance, but stay with me.

The twelve teams that don't top 25,000 fans daily are a mix of bad teams, bad markets, and, sometimes consequently, bad franchises. There's no one way to fix this problem because each individual team's attendance woes vary greatly from the next, but there is a proven way to fix this problem that hasn't happened in baseball in a while: relocation. The Expos moved to Washington DC in 2005 and their attendance, slowly but surely, soared. In this day and age, at least in my opinion, all a city needs is a franchise to love and as long as that franchise gets good within the decade, fans will flock to the stadium. I am of course aware of the expenses of relocation, but new cities are getting ready for baseball teams anyway, so let's talk about some hypothetical team relocations.

Tampa Bay to Montreal
I won't get too much into this because I just talked about it, but Montreal deserves a good franchise. The Expos just never caught fire, so the fans didn't show up, so the team had no money, so the best players didn't re-sign when their contracts were up, and the cycle continued until their move to DC. With Tampa's quality management and talented roster, a permanent move to Montreal should work. Ok, now onto some other franchises!

Oakland to Las Vegas
The Raiders are already moving to Nevada in 2020, so why not move the silver and black's stadium-mates with them? The success of the Golden Knights in the NHL has opened up a whole new sports scene in the Betting Capital of the World, so I can see the A's having success here, thanks to a larger and more supportive fan base. And let's be real: a 34,000-seat stadium, which is in the A's future plans, will never work. That's smaller than Fenway.

Seattle to Portland or Vancouver
The Cascadia feeling won't leave the franchise, but I think it's time we all realized that Seattle and baseball don't mix. The franchise has threatened to leave before and was only saved by a wild 1995 run at the AL pennant. Now, with the team rebuilding, it seems as if the Mariners are in big trouble. However, Portland has wanted a baseball team for years and has investors already lined up for an expansion franchise. Regarding a potential move to Vancouver, why not?

Miami to Charlotte
I will never understand how professional baseball in Florida has never worked, but that's the fact of the matter. The Marlins have struggled with attendance and mismanagement since their inception in 1993 and it doesn't look to be getting better. Charlotte has brought in superb minor league attendance for years and the area is fueled by sports. Just ask college students at UNC and Duke if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Any team to San Antonio
Texas may be a football state, but it's a very populous state in general. The Astros have skyrocketed in the attendance rankings ever since they got good in 2015, so taking a team like the Reds or Indians, teams with talent in poor markets, and moving them to one of the most underrated metropolitan areas in the United States, would surely prove profitable in the long run. Yes, those two Ohio examples have been staples ever since Major League Baseball was formed, but it's no shock to anyone to see each of those two teams in the bottom half of the MLB attendance rankings.

Which other teams would be reinvigorated by a move to a different city? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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