The ambitious plans from the Rays franchise to play half of their home games in Florida and the other half in Montreal, Canada, are dead in the water. However, Tampa Bay Rays owner, Stuart Steinberg, thinks they are ahead of the curve, and that two-centre franchises are inevitable.
Sternberg believes Sister-City developments “are the future in professional sports” and that MLB was too conservative to be the first league to leap. When asked if he felt “betrayed” by his fellow owners, Sternberg said: “That’s a word. That’s a word.”
Let’s be honest, when it comes to thinking outside of the box, the Rays are usually ahead of the pack. So, whether you like it or not, Sister-City partial seasons will likely be with us within the next 20 years.
Here are three potential combinations. Check them out, let us know your thoughts, and then fire back with your proposals.
LAS VEGAS AND DENVER
This proposal has geographical advantages in that Colorado and Nevada are almost neighbours. Well, they both border Utah, and it is only a 12-hour drive between Denver and Las Vegas.
The Colorado Rockies have hosted three of the four coldest MLB games:
- -5℃ Braves at Rockies, 23 April 2013
- -3℃ Mariners at Twins, 7 April 2018
- -2℃ Mets at Rockies, 18 April 2013
- -2℃ Expos at Rockies, 12 April 1997
Meanwhile, April weather in Las Vegas is glorious.
The unique challenges posed by Denver’s altitude would also be lessened if some of the games could be played at 600M instead of 1,600M.
As demonstrated by the construction of the $2 billion Raiders stadium, Las Vegas is a city willing to invest in sports. Obviously, they would prefer sole possession of an MLB franchise, but expansion to 32 teams or relocation of the Athletics both seem like options that may never come to fruition.
Yes, the franchise would still have the same ownership. This is the ownership that allowed Trevor Story to walk, gave away Nolan Arenado (and is still paying him 6% of their payroll this year), and paid Ian Desmond $70 million for three years of 82 OPS+ production.
MIAMI AND MANCHESTER
Florida is home to the two smallest MLB teams. Something has to give. Maybe one and a half teams is a better option.
Manchester is already world-famous as an elite sporting city, so it seems the ideal centre for the home of MLB in Europe. That’s a potential fanbase of 750 million.
It is possible that this Sister-City agreement could transform the Marlins into the best supported MLB team.
Logistically, it would be challenging, but we are living in the age of easy, affordable, luxury travel. Currently, it takes six and a half hours for the Marlins to fly to the northwest city of Seattle, which is the same as a transatlantic flight. For a small investment, the Marlins airliner could have a gym, physio, massage table, ice baths, plus plenty of rest and relaxation options. I’m sure the pampered stars could cope.
As we saw from the London Series, the appetite for MLB in Europe is insatiable. Just imagine the continent hosting 40 Marlins home games each season.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Hear me out. This one is a little more controversial. As you can see from the Forbes table above, the city of New York is home to two of the six most valuable MLB franchises. Yet, despite the staggering wealth at their disposal, both teams are relative failures.
For goodness sakes, the Kansas City Royals have won the World Series more recently than the Yankees or Mets.
So the proposition isn’t a traditional Sister City idea, it is more of a merger. New York is the most famous, most important city in the world. It is a proud city with a long and illustrious sporting heritage. It deserves a competitive MLB franchise. Two mediocre-performing teams could be combined into one single, competitive outfit. This idea has legs.
These are our three suggestions. Who have you got? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @BatFlips_Nerds
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