Exploring MLB Expansion Markets (Part II)

Earlier this month, we covered some possible MLB expansion markets and how they would likely be marketed. Part I covered the criteria, and the markets of Portland and Albuquerque. Now we will continue with Part II.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is an advantageous spot for a new Major League Baseball team for numerous reasons. It is only about a one hour drive from Austin, making it relatively easy to attract baseball fans that don't want to drive for 3+ hours to Arlington or Houston. San Antonio is already home to the Padres AA minor league team, the San Antonio Missions. If a new MLB team were to start up in San Antonio, there may be a naming conflict, and the San Antonio Missions may have to change their name or move to another city. However, the population of both San Antonio and Austin and surrounding communities would bring in more than enough baseball fans to the ballpark, and the rivalry between the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, and San Antonio would be fierce.

The location of a new ballpark would require some discussion among city council members. There is extremely limited space near the downtown area, but it would benefit the most from the city's bus, streetcar, and taxi public transit systems. If the ballpark were located close to the downtown area, visitors could stay in the hotels downtown along the San Antonio Riverwalk and take the River Taxi to within a few blocks of the ballpark. By the way, if you haven't been to San Antonio before, you should definitely stay near the Riverwalk. However, the more likely location for a new ballpark would be on the northeast side of the city, making the journey easier for fans from Austin. This would also drive business growth along I-35 between San Antonio and Austin.

San Antonio RiverwalkPhoto by Justin Wright

The weather in San Antonio is usually close to tropical, making it a great place to be for baseball season. The temperature in the summer months rarely goes near 100, with the average sitting in the mid-high 80's. The precipitation in San Antonio averages about 2.5 to 3 inches of rain per month during baseball season.

Investment and Marketing Potential

Unlike Albuquerque and Portland, San Antonio does not have significant marketing potential outside of utilizing nearby landmarks and tourism. However, they may be able to utilize some old Spanish architecture styles from the 1800s to match the surrounding landmarks. I also think it would be cool if they created an extension of the San Antonio River and the Riverwalk to encircle the ballpark. Doing that would turn the ballpark into the centerpiece of that section of the Riverwalk.

Nashville, Tennessee

When you think of Nashville, the first thing that comes to mind is country music. Nashville is home to the Grand Ole Opry, but it is also home of the Nashville Sounds, the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Nashville is situated right in the middle of several cities that host major league teams: St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. Other populated municipalities within reasonable driving distance of Nashville include Murfreesboro, Hendersonville, Clarksville, Chattanooga, and Bowling Green. The population of the metropolitan area and surrounding cities is close to 2 million people.

The average temperature in Nashville during baseball season averages in the upper 70s and low 80s, usually cooler in April. Rainfall during baseball season averages around 4-4.5 inches per month, making a retractable roof stadium a possibility.

Grand Ole OpryPhoto by Ron Cogswell

Investment and Marketing Potential

The most obvious investment and marketing direction for Nashville is, of course, country music. Fans love hearing country artists singing the national anthem before the game, as it usually sounds the most naturally patriotic and uniquely American. One marketing option would be to have emerging country artists perform several songs after every Friday home game. They could also have well-known country artists signing autographs at the ballpark once every week or two to increase ticket sales. With a city known for music, it would also open up opportunities for stereo and sound companies to offer their best sound systems to the ballpark.

On the downside, the team would have to hope for away games during the CMA Music Festival each June, as it would be troublesome to compete for attendance.

Honorable Mentions

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte would make a good regional rival for the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, but it is unlikely that North Carolina would be able to accept or commit to a Major League Baseball team with such a strong basketball and NASCAR following. The average temperatures and rainfall are roughly the same as Nashville. Unfortunately, Charlotte doesn't really have anything unique enough to bring solid investment and marketing opportunities for a baseball team.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis is known for quite a few sports: Indy 500, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, and FC Indiana. It is also home to the Indianapolis Indians, the AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The fans are very loyal to the sports teams in Indiana, which gives Indianapolis a greater advantage over Charlotte in terms of marketability. If Indianapolis did get a Major League Baseball team, it would likely steal some fans from Chicago and Cincinnati due to its proximity. The likelihood of seeing a new team emerge here is very small, but the probability of the Cubs or another struggling team relocating to the area is much higher.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has a rich baseball history, and many of our well-known all-stars originated there: Roberto Clemente, Juan González, Iván Rodríguez, Roberto Alomar, and Carlos Beltrán just to name a few. With a tropical climate, the weather is perfect for baseball year-round. Well, almost... tropical storms and hurricanes threaten the region during the latter half of the year, and it is unlikely that we will see a baseball stadium capable of avoiding hurricane damage anytime soon.