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Canadian MLB Expansion Or: Should The Jays Play At Least 1 Series In Vancouver + Montreal Per Year?

Olympic Stadium was a building catastrophe from the get go. It was a contributing factor of the Expos leaving Montreal. Having said that, it would have been really cool if the North America opener were to have been opened in Montreal, with a series with Toronto and the New York Mets. Instead the series in an exhibition. At least the Canadian stadium has hosted regular season MLB games.

Olympic Stadium was a building catastrophe from the get go. It was a contributing factor of the Expos leaving Montreal. Having said that, it would have been really cool if the MLB were to at least designate the Canadian stadium to host some regular season games in the next few years.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer) 

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I must be out of my mind right?

Having the Toronto Blue Jays play in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver  allduring a regular season – and re-brand the club to a national team in the MLB?  But stop and think about this for a minute.

The club as drawn almost 100K total fans for the 2 exhibition games in Quebec during the last 2 years in exhibition series right before the season started.

Why not play some games in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver – and rename the club the Canada Blue Jays?  Okay.. that is a little drastic here.  Keep them the Toronto Blue Jays, but what would be wrong with selling 40K+ fans a game for 12 total games?  Maybe 6 games in each city.

Since the MLB insists on having 19 Divisional games a year – with 3 series in each city, would it be that bad if the Tampa Bay Rays or Baltimore Orioles were to visit Montreal to play the Blue Jays  a series?

Or how about and grow the brand on the West Coast by playing a 3 game set at BC Place Stadium followed up with Toronto heading down to Seattle right afterwards for another series?  Read the rest of this entry

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The Falling Canadian Dollar Could Be A Major Roadblock In Any Montreal Bid For Another MLB Franchise

Toronto is the only team in the MLB not in the USA.  With that comes foreign currency.  For the years of 1990 - 2007, the Canadian Dollar was hovering around the 70 cents mark for the duration.  The last economic crash in the USA - had the dollar at par for the better part of the last 7 years, including once reaching $1.10 for every George Washington bill in America.  The average for the exchange rate has been in the mid 90 cents range.  The loonie has been in a nosedive since 2014 kicked in - and now it is around 90 cents for every US Dollar.  If it goes down much more, it will be just another challenge East Division.

Toronto is the only team in the MLB not in the USA. With that comes foreign currency. For the years of 1990 – 2007, the Canadian Dollar was hovering around the 70 cents mark for the duration (62 cents at its worst). The last economic crash in the USA – had the dollar at par for the better part of the last 7 years, including once reaching $1.10 for every George Washington bill in America in late 2008. The average for the exchange rate had been in the mid 90 cents range for the most part of 2014. The loonie has been in a nosedive since the end of 2014 kicked in – and now it is around 80 cents for every US Dollar. It will cost you $1.263 Canadian for $1 American on today’s market, and it If it looks to go down much more.  This economic factor could significantly derail any effort the city of Montreal has to ever regain an MLB franchise.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead Analyst): 

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The Canadian Dollar is in a free-fall against the American greenback.  I woke up this morning to see that to buy a US $1, it now cost $1.263 Canadian dollars.  Effectively that means any club in Canada is at 26.3% Luxury Tax before the season even starts, because the team pays out player salaries in USD, while the money brought in is Canadian currency.

So often people forget that the Montreal Expos problems became occurring not only as the 1994 Player Strike/1995 Lockout fanbase was angry at the MLB, with some of them never to return, but also a sagging loony.

At its worst price, was a 0.62 cent buck vs the USA back in the mid-90’s.  With the oil prices being what they are, this has serious ramifications for any impending groups of people wishing to bring back baseball to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The Expos left after the 2004 season, and in some ways it is a total injustice.  Perhaps no other franchise has been affected more by the two biggest work stoppages than the Montreal had been.

The 1981 Player strike happened when Montreal was filling Olympic Stadium to the tune of 2 Million Fans per year, and the young nucleus of players such as Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Tim Wallach and Warren Cromartie were leading the charge to an uprising NL squad.

Of course everyone remembers “Blue Monday’s” HR to knock the Expos out of the 1981 playoff chase.  The 1979 – 1994 teams carried out 12 out of 15 winning seasons, and possessed one of the greatest semblance of a drafting organization ever. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Expansion, Possible Destination: Portland, Oregon

Portland:  One of the largest cities without a team, this would be a safe bet for Major League Baseball.  This city has been thrown around in almost every discussion on expansion.  This one will likely happen.  The population is over 625,000 -  but it has a couple more Million in the Metropolitan area.

Portland: One of the largest cities without a team, this would be a safe bet for Major League Baseball. This city has been thrown around in almost every discussion on expansion. This one will likely happen. The population is over 600,000 – but it has a couple more Million in the Metropolitan area.

Jordan Gluck (Baseball Operations Analyst): 

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MLB Expansion Destinations: Portland Oregon

The second city I think is a contender for MLB expansion is Portland Oregon. I think that MLB in the next 8 or so years will expand to 32 teams with one team absolutely somewhere on the west coast.

I think the west coast is a necessity due to division alignment and that the Astros who are located in the central time zone are in the American League West. Which West Coast team is the answer that we don’t know about yet.

I will Clarify that Portland WILL NOT receive the Oakland Athletics!!!!!!!!!!!

Portland due to high precipitation will require a retractable roof stadium. I would make the stadium kind of funky like the young “hip” town of Portland which is commonly referred by its natives as “Portlandia”. Read the rest of this entry

Could The Toronto Blue Jays Turn Into The Canada Blue Jays + Play In Montreal And Vancouver As Well?

Olympic Stadium was a building catastrophe from the get go.  It was a contributing factor of the Expos leaving Montreal.  Having said that, it would have been really cool if the North America opener were to have been opened in Montreal, with a series with Toronto and the New York Mets.  Instead the series in an exhibition.  At least the Canadian stadium has hosted regular season MLB games.

Olympic Stadium was a building catastrophe from the get go. It was a contributing factor of the Expos leaving Montreal. Having said that, it would have been really cool if the North America opener were to have been opened in Montreal, with this past series with Toronto and the New York Mets. Instead it was just an exhibition. At least the Canadian park has hosted regular season MLB games  unlike the Sydney Cricket Ground.  Will another city other than Toronto ever host a regular season game again?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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I must be out of my mind right?

Having the Toronto Blue Jays play in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver during a regular season – and re-brand the club to a national team in the MLB?  But stop and think about this for a minute.

The club just drew almost 100K total fans for the 2 exhibition games in Quebec on Mar.28 and Mar.29/2014. 

This just reaffirmed my stance of last week.  I admonished the MLB for not starting the season with this series in Montreal.

Having thought about it further this weekend, I came up with a new idea.  Why not play some games in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver – and name the club the Canada Blue Jays? Read the rest of this entry

Can Canada Support a Second Baseball Franchise in Vancouver?

Friday, June.01/2012

Newly renovated BC Place Stadium with $600 Million Dollars in upgrades, re-opened on Sept.30/2011 and features a 100 by 85 retractable roof. The lights also illuminate different colors both inside and outside of the building. The stadium could be converted to meet MLB specifications.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- At first look you might not think that Vancouver could support a Major League Baseball franchise, but there are a few things to consider.  With a surrounding area population of 2.5 Million, it is one of the biggest cities in the USA or Canada not to have a team. Of course when you are looking at the viability of a franchise submission/or relocation, you must look at the facility that the baseball would be played in.  With newly renovated B.C Place Stadium-(see http://www.bcplacestadium.com/,) and its $600 Million Dollar Renovations, it is one of the most impressive structures in North America now. 

The building itself is estimated to be worth over a billion dollars.  It’s clear, retractable roof, with an incredible look to detail inside the building with 22 inch stadium style seating has all of the modern amenities that a new age fan would want.  The facility features several new Skyboxes for corporate suites, and brand new concession stands that would be an extremely good revenue generator. The stadium’s surface is made up of Field Turf, and could be converted to meet baseball specifications.  This stadium is a turn-key situation unlike any other in North America when it comes to a baseball ready facility.

Major League Baseball has gained in popularity over the last 20 years in the Lower Mainland with turning out MLB’ers like Larry Walker, Jeff Francis , Ryan Dempster and Brett Lawrie all coming from this area.  Also in Canada, you have 3 TV networks that have an all-sports format in www.thescore.ca, www.tsn.ca and www.sportsnet.ca that would gladly love to fill content on their networks by bidding for television rights on a new baseball team in Canada.  There are enough talented sports personalities to fill in solid coverage. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Expansion: Baseball Discussions to Add Two More Teams

Friday July 1, 2011

 

MLB reports:  When looking at the current state of baseball, some very important changes are on the horizon.  MLB reports tackled in the past weeks the topics of MLB realignment, the future of the DH and expanding and changing the playoffs (click on links to view these posts).  Whether you are a traditionalist or modern thinker, we can all agree that revisions to the baseball system are coming.  To compliment many of the new developments that are coming, we have one last topic that we need to cover.  This is a biggie so hold on to your hats:  MLB Expansion.  Major League Baseball, as slow as it is to adapt, has come to the time that it must acknowledge that the American League and National League need a balanced amount of teams.  When contraction didn’t work (Minnesota stayed and Montreal moved to Washington), we were left with thirty MLB teams.  To fix the discrepancy, we need sixteen teams per league.  As a result, get ready for Major League Baseball to expand to two new cities.

Before anyone stars howling, let me insert a disclaimer.  There is no available information yet confirming that MLB will expand.  But from all the signs of the state of the game, it appears that expansion is on the horizon.  It must be.  Expansion will lead to balanced leagues, which will be a must in the addition of more wild card teams.  In 1993, MLB added the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins.  In 1998, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks joined the mix.  Since then, we have gone thirteen years without expansion.  Baseball popularity is at an all time high, with the economy slowly starting to rebound.  The demand and money are there and anytime the MLB owners can fill their wallets, they will take it.  Expansion fees back in 1998 were $130 million.  To contrast, the Texas Rangers sold last August for $593 million.  Let’s ballpark it and say that each new expansion team could easily bring in $250 million each.  That would be $500 million available to be shared by the existing 30 MLB owners.  That is a minimum of $16 million per team and even that amount is conservative.  Realistically, we could see $25-$30 million per team as the bonus.  Money talks and the lure of the big payday will be too much for MLB owners to pass up much longer.  By having a balanced schedule, leading to realignment and more wild card teams, together with the revenues that are generated, both teams and players should be happy.  It is a win-win for all.

The biggest argument that I have heard against MLB expansion is the dilution of talent.  There is a thin amount of pitching to go around as it is, and by adding more teams to the mix, the talent levels will supposedly be at an all-time low.  I don’t buy it.  Take a look at AA and AAA and how many major league ready players are wasting away due to a lack of opportunity.  Some are there for financial considerations, by teams wishing to delay their arbitration and free agency years.  I acknowledge that.  But there is so much talent at those levels alone that an expansion draft could stock two competitive MLB teams.  I truly believe that.  Then we should take into account the globalization of the sport.  The 2013 World Baseball Classic will feature twelve new countries into the mix.  By creating and furthering the interest in baseball around the world, including Great Britain, Germany, France etc., Major League Baseball will create a deeper pool of talent as a result.  It will take time and the benefits of adding more countries to the WBC in expanding the players that are generated may not be felt for a decade or longer.  But baseball needs to think long-term, not short.  Even if there is a dilution of the quality of players for a brief time, it is not unreasonable to think that the world as a whole with its population could stock 32 MLB teams.  It currently stocks 30 teams quite well and the problem, if any, is that in the future we will actually have more quality players than available teams to play for.

The main benefit of expansion is the created interested in Major League Baseball in more cities and the added rivalries and intrigue to the game itself.  There are baseball hungry fans in many cities that are denied the privilege of watching MLB games live, due to lack of proximity.  Adding MLB teams will create more fans in the new cities and surrounding areas.  Merchandising sales will increase, jobs will be added and economies will benefit in those cities.  As long as each new team has a solid economic plan in creating a business model for itself, from the ballpark to the day-to-day operation of the team, new MLB teams will be cash cows and not drains on their respective cities.  There is a reason why cities and potential owners campaign to be awarded a Major League Baseball team.  Baseball is a lucrative business.  By understanding why expansion is necessary and beneficial, it is time to jump into the candidates.

From everything that I have read and people that I have spoken with, the following is a list of ten potential MLB expansion destinations.  From these ten cities, two may end up being the lucky winners.  I have included a brief commentary beside each candidate for reference:

1)  Las Vegas:  There is money in Vegas and demand for the sport.  The biggest hindrances are the gambling and economic issues for the area.  I think Las Vegas should get a team and baseball may feel the same way.

2)  Portland:  One of the largest cities without a team, this would be a safe bet for Major League Baseball.  This city has been thrown around in almost every discussion on expansion.  This one will likely happen.

3)  San Antonio:  Similar to Portland, but there are already two teams based in Texas.  If any area will get three MLB teams, it is New York (see Brooklyn discussion).

4)  Sacramento:  Is the California market getting saturated?  With Oakland having issues and looking to a move to San Jose, there may be alarm bells that hinder Sacramento.  There is also a chance the city will lose its NBA team which does not help from an image standpoint.

5)  Orlando:  More teams to Florida?  The Rays aren’t exactly busting at the gate and the Marlins are moving to Miami next year.  I could see the Rays moving if they do not get a new stadium, so expansion will likely be held off here for now.

6)  Nashville/Memphis:  Both are great cities but with other viable markets available, Nashville/Memphis are a long-shot.

7)  Mexico City:  This is the sexy pick if Major League Baseball truly wants to become international.  The travel logistics could make this one very difficult.  For a sport that is slow to evolve, this is too much change, too soon.

8)  Vancouver or Montreal:  Stop snickering as this could happen.  Ok, not Montreal, but Vancouver is a possibility.  After the loss of the Expos, I cannot see baseball ever going back to Quebec.  Then when we account for the fact that Vancouver lost its NBA team, baseball may be scared off from these areas as being non-viable.  The Toronto Blue Jays sit middle-in-the-pack for attendance and I think MLB is satisfied with one Canadian squad.  Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks reading this article and enjoy the Jays this weekend.  But as far as more Canadian teams in baseball, I am sorry but I do not see it happening.  Ever.

9)  Brooklyn:  The talk of the Nets coming to Brooklyn soon has sparked renewed interest in the area for baseball.  The Brooklyn Dodgers will never come back to existence, but a new expansion team might.  Given baseball’s rich history and love of everything retro, I really like this selection.  Don’t discount the power of New York, as it is one of the central hubs of sport.  I only give this one a 25% chance of happening, but a very solid 25.

10)  New Orleans:  A feel-good pick, given the tragedy suffered by the city.  But on an economic and rational basis, it is difficult to envision bringing a new baseball team coming to a rebuilding area that still is suffering major financial issues.

That concludes today’s discussion on MLB expansion.  As a starting point for the topic, I am sure that this will not be the last we hear about it.  Given that MLB works in secret ways often, don’t be surprised if an announcement on two new expansion teams comes out of left field one day.  While it would be fun to hold a competition and have cities campaign for selection, MLB may not want to run the risk of alienating and upsetting teams that are not chosen.  At the end of the day, the key for baseball will be to get the right cities and owners in place.  This will happen in the next year or two and should be an interesting process.  Will we see the Portland Sluggers, Las Vegas Aliens or Brooklyn Bombers?  Time will tell on that one.  What we can be sure is that the face of Major League Baseball over the next few years will change substantially.  From the teams, to the playoffs and divisions.  Change is in the air as baseball continues to evolve with the times.

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