(The Center Square) – With Thursday morning’s approval of a Major League Baseball franchise move, the bullpen gates opened, and Charlotte and Raleigh are expected to throw a North Carolina pitch.
The show won’t be cheap. The expansion fee is $2 billion, providing each of the 30 teams about $133 million each.
Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved the move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas, according to multiple published reports ahead of an MLB announcement. The franchise, charter member of the American League in 1901 when in Philadelphia, moved to Kansas City in 1955 and Oakland in 1968.
Commissioner Rob Manfred and baseball officials have said in recent years that no expansion would happen until stadium issues involving the A’s and Tampa Rays were resolved. The move to 32 teams is expected sooner rather than later.
Charlotte, Raleigh and Nashville, Tennessee, are on the short list of possible expansion cities in the East. The West has Portland and Salt Lake City. Montreal, once home to the Expos franchise, now in the nation’s capital as the Washington Nationals, is another.
And, similar to the NFL when the Browns left Cleveland to become the Baltimore Ravens, an expansion franchise could go to Oakland – pending ownership, a new stadium and its financing.
Those won’t be the only interested parties. Multiple gambling sites with odds on which cities list San Antonio, Orlando, New Orleans and Mexico City.
North Carolina was without one of the four major professional team sports until 1988 when the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets began play. The NFL’s Carolina Panthers began play in 1995, and the NHL’s Hartford Whalers relocated to become the Carolina Hurricanes starting in 1997.
Baseball, however, has remained elusive but wanted. And the diamond history is rich, starting with players but certainly to include dozens of minor league teams through the years and even the big screen thrill of Bull Durham.
The state has long hosted touring circuits for the top level of stock-car racing and professional golf.
Play in a new Vegas ballpark is expected in 2028. The team’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum ends after the 2024 season. Multiple options abound for where the team plays in between, including but not limited to a possible short-term lease to stay, in San Francisco at the Giants’ home, or in the minor league stadium already in Vegas.