One of the five questions the St. Petersburg Times editorial board has for Mayor Bill Foster regarding the future of the Tampa Bay Rays is “if the Rays do not want a new stadium in St. Petersburg, would you rather residents drive to Tampa to see their favorite players or fly to Charlotte?”
The problem with that question is that the Rays wouldn’t be any better off in Charlotte than they are in St. Pete, according to a new study which reports that only one market in the country (without a current team) is economically prepared to support a basesball franchise.
If Major League Baseball ever decides to expand, it will have very few options.
Only one market — Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. — has an income base that’s large enough to support a new MLB team, according to an On Numbers study.
Seven other markets have borderline potential, based on an analysis of total personal income (TPI). Prominent in that group are a city that has already lost an MLB franchise (Montreal) and another (Las Vegas) whose gambling industry makes baseball officials very nervous.
And that’s the extent of the available choices.
Obviously this study does not mean the Rays would be better off in Tampa, it just says that the prospect of moving the team to Charlotte is an empty threat.