MLB Expansion: Could Major League Baseball Add a Team in Mexico City?

Sunday March 18th, 2012

Sam Evans: Mexico City has the largest population of any city in North America, so it is somewhat surprising that it does not have an MLB franchise. Thanks to technology, the world is getting smaller and language barriers are rapidly shrinking. If there was ever a time for MLB to either expand or relocate a team to Mexico City, it is right now.

There are several reasons why Major League Baseball should add a team in Mexico City. First of all, a new team would provide a new source of income for the league, which has suffered as a whole during the recession (no matter what they tell you. The additional money from ticket sales, TV, media, and merchandise couldn’t hurt.  Secondly, expansion to Mexico City would broaden support for the sport to an international audience, which is something in which Commissioner Bud Selig has shown great interest in recent history.

For me, the bottom line is that Mexico City deserves a MLB major team. For one thing, the population is  over 8 million and growing, making it the highest-populated city in North America. With this population comes a large media market; a new MLB team might receive one of the biggest TV contracts ever seen.

Secondly, MLB needs to expand its breadth beyond the U.S. and Canada.  Given the international background of today’s players, why does the league only play in two countries?  Adding a franchise in another country would show the rest of the world that baseball deserves an international stage. Mexico is the closest country in which the MLB doesn’t have a Major League franchise. So it would be the logical place to start.

As much as it sounds like a good idea, the reality is that MLB won’t be adding a team in Mexico City any time soon.  Expanding would be a huge risk for MLB’s already volatile reputation; if the new team failed, it could be devastating for the league’s  prestige level.

The first challenge would be the building of a new ballparkin all likelihood. A new team would require the construction of a state-of-the-art stadium, consistent with the best ballparks in today’s game.  In order for Mexico City to support a Major League franchise, it would need a brand-new stadium. Azteca Stadium seats over 100,000 people, but it isn’t fit for a Major League team. Foro Sol stadium is used primarily for baseball and it does seat 26,000, but it’s not up to Major League standards in terms of amenities.

Of special consideration in planning a stadium for Mexico City is its altitude. Mexico City lies at over 7,000 feet, which makes Coors Field seem tame.  Players might struggle adjusting to the thin air. Additionally, in a ballpark with a higher elevation, studies have shown that the ball carries much farther. The new stadium in Mexico City would require special dimensions to compensate for the altitude.  For example, the stadium might have fifty-foot high walls, or measure 450 feet out to center field. This stadium would be an architect’s and engineer’s dream.

Another challenge would be competition from soccer’s faithful fan base in Mexico.  Soccer is the main sport in Mexico. Practically everyone in Mexico follows the national soccer team. I bet if you took a poll of Mexico City citizens, more people would be able to name twenty soccer players, as compared to  five baseball players. Soccer is the most beloved sport in the world, and in Mexico City, no sport will every enjoy the same success that soccer has.

Finally, a Mexico City franchise is risky because of the dangers that are associated playing in a foreign country. There are still border issues with Mexico and crime rates are disturbingly high. As recently as Tuesday, gunfire interrupted a Mexican League game causing the players and fans to take cover. Nothing like that has ever happened at an MLB game, and I’m sure Bud Selig would never risk putting any players’ lives in jeopardy.

I want to be clear for the record that I am against relocation of a current major league team to Mexico City.  As a Seattle Sonics fan, I witnessed how hard it is to lose the team that you love to a distant location.  If a team relocates within the same state or region, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it may be an opportunity for a struggling team to get a fresh start. However, franchises (except in drastic situations) should not relocate across the nation, let alone to a foreign country.

One day I think we will see teams located all-around the world. Imagine how awesome it would be to have a separate division in Asia and South America. By establishing a new franchise in Mexico City (though not easy or practical), Major League Baseball would be starting to realize this dream… where one day, baseball truly would be seen most (if not all fans), as a top world sport. Right where baseball belongs.

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on March 18, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi, I’m Mexican and I really love the idea of having a MLB team in my country. However, the real problem with that is just plain and simple, MONEY. Mexican League Soccer players are paid very low compared to an American baseball player, for instance, an elite goalkeeper like Oswaldo Sanchez makes 2.2 million dollars a year and he is the best paid of his team, which is owned by a beer company. Most of his teammates wont even make a quarter of his salary. Maybe payroll on this team is like 15 millions a year, nothing compared to a MLB franchise. Also, tickets for a soccer match may cost from around 5 to 40 dollars, and rarely a stadium gets a sold out. The need for subsidy from the league will be inevitable and frankly I don’t think the risk is worth it. But I hop this could happen

  2. Mexicans who live in cities that have a baseball team love their baseball. Our favorite vacation spot is Mazatlan and we always schedule it so we can attend a few baseball games. It’s unlike any baseball experience you’ll ever have. Of course, it’s all in Spanish, but it’s still easy to follow and everyone’s very friendly. I liked your post and I for one would love to see MLB in Mexico. I wrote a post last year on MLB now being in Australia. Can you imagine attending a World Series there? Not impossible, that’s for sure, and neither is it impossible in Mexico, just not anytime soon. http://wp.me/pV4Gn-og

  3. imagine how crazy a team in tokyo would be. An average of 50,000 a game. They could figure it out. Make the team the colors of Japans flag.

    • Agreed. That would be awesome. However, if I’m an American-born MLB player, I don’t think I would want to fly out to Japan all the time. That’s a loooong flight.

  4. Monterrey City should be the next big city to recieve a MLB Franchise. Its one of the most developed cities in México If not the most and fits perfectly to type of city franchise MLB owners are looking for, plus the biggest advantage is that is just a fer hours from american territory, for example the state of Texas, which would make it easier for players in the league. Like the MLB did with Toronto, they should do it with Monterrey And right now its the perfect moment to start thinking in expanding the league even more. After all baseball is the leading sport in the USA, isn’t it? Why not make it even bigger.

  5. Monterrey, Mexico and Montreal, Canada should be the next two cities to join MLB. Neither city intrudes on the tv markets of current teams. Both cities would be true expansion markets; actually increasing the size of the overall MLB “pie”. Fan income level is not the most important issue. Getting a viable TV contract definitely matters. The Blujays have a network deal for all of Canada; BUT a deal could be worked out on a competing network like Bell for a Montreal team in the National League. An MLB team in Mexico could also get a Nationwide contract for all of Mexico. That could be bigger than even the Yankees on the YES network. Monterrey’s team and infrastructure could already exist now. They just need the money and political connections to change leagues.

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