MLB commissioner on expansion: 'Charlotte is a possibility'

MLB commissioner on expansion: 'Charlotte is a possibility'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Major League Baseball will continue to delay any plans for expansion until after the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays get new ballparks.

“I think it would be difficult to convince the owners to go forward with an expansion until those situations are resolved,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday during an All-Star Game town hall meeting.

“Once they’re done, I think we have some great candidates,” Manfred said. “I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal. It was not great when the Expos left. The fact of the matter was baseball was successful in Montreal for a very long time. Charlotte is a possibility. And I would like to think that Mexico City or some place in Mexico would be another possibility.”

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Channel 9 reported on a Plaza Midwood man's social media campaign to bring Major League Baseball to Charlotte.

Rick Curti has set up up a website, a petition and a Facebook page that has more than 17,000 likes and counting.

Charlotte attorney Jerry Reese spent years filing seven lawsuits to stop the Charlotte Knights from building their stadium uptown. He claimed Charlotte was a 'Major League' city.

He used those arguments to try, unsuccessfully, to block the minor league Knights from moving in.

"That would be great to bring a big-league time here,” Atlanta Braves fan Scott Lindsay said. “Yeah, versus having to go to Atlanta. Yeah, I say, ‘Let’s do it.’"

Mike Smith, with Center City Partners, said although Charlotte is a likely destination, the possibility is years away.

"Our belief was that it was a couple of decades away, but that's reading tea leaves," Smith said.

But there is hope for those who would like to see an MLB team in Charlotte.

"I would not ask anyone to tap the brakes," Smith said.

Charlotte Knights statement:

"It's always a compliment when Charlotte is noticed as a potential Major League Baseball city, however, we still contend, as does the Major League Baseball Commissioner, Rob Manfred, that this is years away. We are thrilled that our team has led the country in Minor League Baseball attendance for three straight years, and intend on continuing that tradition for many years to come."