So this interesting little article on possible Major League Baseball expansion and the absolutely mammoth fees that the expansion teams would be charged came across my desk late this afternoon. I had to stop and make sure I was reading it correctly, but yes…it really says that the cost to enter MLB would be “in the range of $2.2 billion for new franchises.”
Major League Baseball does nothing these days – and I mean nothing – unless it means more money in the pockets of the team owners and the league. More games on different platforms? New and incredibly odd sponsorships? Reducing the number of minor league teams and players? All of these initiatives put more money in owners’ pockets, and do nothing to improve the quality of play on the field. Many people have noticed. (This might possibly be Manfred’s theme song.) So when Commissioner Rob Manfred puts an actual (ok, possible) price tag on expansion, that means the process is likely further down the road than we might think. I’ve heard little to no reaction to this gargantuan amount from the expansion ownership groups in Nashville, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Montreal, and Portland, so they either already knew this was the price of being in the big leagues, or they’ve collectively had a coronary and are unavailable for comment.
This news must be music to the ears of the current team owners who are claiming poverty due to the effect that Covid-19 has had on their businesses. Imagine the millions in easy cash they will all get to make up for the losses they all claim, but are unwilling to prove?
The cynic in me thinks that this is nothing more than a signal to current owners to fall in line behind the league, and if they back Commissioner Manfred’s hardline stance against the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in the forthcoming CBA talks, they will be rewarded handsomely with approximately $147 million of easy money. ($4.4 billion divided by 30 teams). That’s a hell of an inducement, and a payday that the small market clubs likely can’t pass up.