As the whispers of Major League Baseball (MLB) expansion continue to circulate, one city that consistently comes up in the conversation is Charlotte, North Carolina. Known for its vibrant sports culture, rapid growth, and existing infrastructure, Charlotte presents a compelling case for becoming the next MLB city. Here are three reasons why Charlotte could be the next destination for MLB expansion.
Rapidly Growing Market
Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with a population that has surged by nearly 20% in the last decade. This growth isn’t just in numbers; it’s also in diversity, with an influx of residents from different backgrounds and cultures, many of whom are baseball fans. This demographic shift could provide a robust and diverse fan base for a new MLB team.
Moreover, Charlotte’s booming economy, which is anchored by several Fortune 500 companies, could offer substantial corporate support for a new team.
TV revenue for MLB teams comes primarily from local and national broadcasting rights. Local TV deals can vary widely based on the size and wealth of the local market, the team’s popularity, and the terms of the contract. For example, larger markets like New York and Los Angeles have local TV deals that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, while smaller markets may only bring in a fraction of that.
Charlotte is the 22nd largest television market in the United States. This would place it in the lower half of MLB markets, suggesting that a Charlotte MLB team’s local TV revenue might be closer to those of smaller market teams. However, Charlotte’s rapid growth and the potential novelty of a new MLB team could make it more attractive to broadcasters and lead to a more lucrative deal.
Strong Local Support & History
Charlotte has a rich sports culture, with successful NBA and NFL franchises, the Hornets and the Panthers, respectively. The city’s minor league baseball team, the Charlotte Knights, has also enjoyed strong support, consistently ranking among the top in attendance in the International League.
The success of these teams indicates a passionate local sports fan base that could easily extend to an MLB team. The city’s residents have shown time and again that they are ready and willing to rally behind their sports teams, making Charlotte a promising location for MLB expansion.
Baseball has a long and storied history in Charlotte, dating back to the late 19th century. The city’s first professional team, the Charlotte Hornets, was part of the South Atlantic League and began play in 1901. Over the years, the Hornets would see several periods of success, including a dominant stretch in the 1950s under the leadership of manager and future Hall of Famer, George Sisler. The team played at Clark Griffith Park, which was one of the premier minor league ballparks of its time. The Hornets continued to be a fixture of Charlotte’s sports scene until 1973, when the team was relocated.
In 1976, professional baseball returned to the city with the establishment of the Charlotte O’s, a minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s played at the historic Crockett Park until a fire destroyed the stadium in 1985. Following this, a new team, the Charlotte Knights, was formed and a new stadium, Knights Stadium, was built in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The Knights returned to downtown Charlotte in 2014 with the opening of Truist Field. Over the years, Charlotte has consistently shown its love for the game, supporting its minor league teams and hosting numerous memorable moments in baseball history. This rich tradition of Charlotte baseball only bolsters Charlotte’s case for an MLB expansion team.
Charlotte boasts a state-of-the-art minor league ballpark, the Truist Field, which is located in the heart of the city. While it would likely need some expansion and upgrades to accommodate an MLB team, its existence provides a solid foundation.
Additionally, the city’s infrastructure is well-equipped to handle the influx of fans an MLB team would bring. Charlotte has a modern airport, extensive public transportation, and a plethora of hotels and restaurants, making it an attractive destination for both local and visiting fans.
Charlotte, North Carolina, with its rapidly growing market, passionate sports culture, and robust infrastructure, presents a compelling case for MLB expansion. The city’s rich baseball history and potential for viable TV revenue further strengthen its candidacy as the next MLB city. With Major League Baseball looking at increasing to 32 teams, Charlotte baseball fans should be excited about their chances of landing a Big League team.