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MLB Expansion Potentially Draws Closer With Rays Ballpark Deal

  • Rays' stadium deal looks to solve long-running problem for MLB
  • League executives will look to move quickly on considering expansion

After operating at 30 teams for a quarter-century, MLB could finally be approaching expansion.

Both MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and predecessor Bud Selig have reiterated that any extensive consideration of league expansion would first require solving problematic stadium issues for both the Rays and Oakland A’s. 

While the A’s situation remains in limbo, there is now an expected $1.2 billion deal for the Tampa Bay Rays to build a new ballpark in St. Petersburg, Florida, with a formal announcement planned for Tuesday.

The Rays’ effort to replace the badly outdated Tropicana Field will center on the development of a 30,000-seat stadium opening in 2028, part of a larger, 86-acre redevelopment of St. Petersburg’s Gas Plant District. The deal would end years of relocation talk involving the Rays and keep MLB in the country’s 13th-largest media market.

“We’ll be sharing a lot with the public tomorrow!” team president Matt Silverman said to Front Office Sports.

On the other side of the country, the A’s have formally submitted their relocation bid to move to Las Vegas and build a new ballpark there, though some questions still surround that effort. 

Should both the Rays and A’s succeed in resolving decades-long facility issues, expansion efforts are expected to quickly escalate around MLB. Already, cities such as Nashville, Charlotte, Salt Lake City, Montreal, and Portland have either made preliminary pitches or have been discussed as potential candidates.

At the All-Star Game in July, Manfred said MLB was beginning to think more about expansion, which could bring at least several billion dollars in new money into the sport.

“I hope pretty shortly thereafter [completing the A’s and Rays deals], we would put together an expansion committee and start talking about issues associated with expansion,” Manfred said then. 

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