Bring MLB To Raleigh

While feedback from this movement has been 95% positive, I do find it interesting and unfortunate that some people immediately search for reason it can’t or shouldn’t happen.

Not saying anyone here is doing that, or that people shouldn’t really dig into the details of it all (they should, and we’ve tried to provide a foundation for doing that at MLBRaleigh.com), but as a whole, there seems to be a very small fraction that wants to disregard all data that suggests it would work and key in on why is wouldn’t work.

Obviously, at this point both sides are dealing in hypotheticals even with all the stats laid out. However, if you live here and are for Raleigh growing and expanding, the fact that its even a conversation and viable from most metrics, should present real opportunity to come together and make the narrative “Why not Raleigh (& the Triangle)?”

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The Rays just signed a 15-year, $1.2 billion TV contract that is backloaded. Sure, they could end up still moving, but there’s a lot of incentive to try to work out a deal, and this is as good of a segue as any to the elephant that every Bring MLB to [insert name of your city] dances around.

There is not currently an MLB-caliber stadium in Raleigh. One would have to be built. Building such a stadium would probably cost at least $600 million. Any ownership group looking to bring a team to Raleigh would almost certainly ask for a very, very sizable taxpayer contribution for that stadium. At the end of the day, all of these movements, including but not limited to Raleigh, are an effort to build support for spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to build a baseball stadium. My thoughts on the wisdom of such an expenditure are well known on this forum, so I won’t belabor them here.

There is some evidence, admittedly mixed, that cities are becoming increasingly reluctant to throw money at sports teams the way they were in the 1990s. For this reason, I am much more bearish than anyone at MLB is likely to be that either the Rays are going to move or that MLB is actually going to be able to expand to 32 teams on terms that the league finds palatable.

Both Oakland and Tampa Bay are having tremendous difficulties getting a new stadium built. Miami finally got a new stadium only once they tore down the Orange Bowl. The only other stadiums to open since 2010 have been built in the suburbs. I don’t believe that these are isolated incidents related to these regions. I think this is the new economic reality that MLB is going to face in almost any expansion market.

If Stuart Sternberg decides he wants to relocate the Rays, that’s all well and good, but that still leaves him in the exact same situation he’s in now, scrambling to figure out where a baseball stadium would go and who (certainly not him, of course) would pay for it. There’s a good chance that there’s not actually a better alternative on offer than staying in northern Florida. (I suspect when all is said and done, the A’s will build a new stadium in the parking lot of the old stadium, as many other franchises have done.)

If the Rays do stay, then MLB needs to find two cities willing to put up large taxpayer contributions to stadium construction. It’s entirely possible this does in fact happen. But while expanding to 32 teams is certainly MLB’s plan, there’s absolutely no guarantee that they’re going to be able to make those plans a reality.

If there is a competition between Raleigh and Charlotte for an MLB team, it will not be won with high-minded arguments about market sizes or median incomes, unfortunately. It will be won by offering the largest publicly subsidy to construct a stadium. And it’s hard to see a path by which Raleigh wins that battle.

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Again, all hypotheticals and really more of the “Why it can’t happen.” narrative, which is unfortunate.

Why not garner support, focus on the data that suggest it would work and present the Triangle as what it really is:

  • One of the fastest growing, richest metros in America.

  • A region that MLB doesn’t have a footprint in and thus is barely able to capitalize on.

  • An area with roots in baseball with a strong community that is passionate about the sport and willing to come together to put themselves in the conversation while volunteering and raising money to promote baseball in their lesser served neighborhoods.

  • A region with a population at or above established MLB markets, with a Top 25 TV market that is THE largest without a regionally or locally broadcast MLB team.

Why not focus on those instead of things completely out of any of our control. “Who will pay for the stadium?” , “Who will be the investors?”, “Will the Rays move?” , “What if Charlotte gets organized?”, “What if baseball doesn’t expand?”

Those are all hypotheticals that you could regurgitate until you are blue in the face. Sure they are worthy of discussion, but they should not be presented as non-starters or reasons why “It just won’t work.”

It just takes one investor seeing one opportunity to start the ball rolling. Where it goes from there is anyones guess and it’s obviously when things get more complicated.

However, you never get there if you don’t first lay a foundation of support and show investors that the three basic ingredients to any pro city are already here. Viable numbers, community support, and substantial growth.


Meanwhile, while some are busy steering the conversation into questions with no answers, cities that are focused on action are organizing and coming together to build a case and expose a potential market that others may not have paid attention to.

Portland wasn’t a top contender for an MLB team until the Portland Diamond Project started with a small newsletter and a few events that brought the community together around baseball. 2 years later they have large investors, land and a stadium plan.

There’s a process to all of this and MLB in the Triangle is far from a slam dunk, but to suppress excitement because it’s going to be tough seems like a poor stance if you root for our region’s growth and prosperity.

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If I were going to aim for MLB in the triangle, I would put it in Durham and leverage the Bulls brand. Market it as America’s favorite minor league team finally getting “called up” to the majors. Emphasize the humble beginnings and all that. For a stadium, add a second tier of seats to DBAP, or even tear the whole thing down (it is 25 years old by now after all) and rebuild in place.

Yeah, I know this is a Raleigh forum, but I just find that to be such a compelling story that I can’t turn it down.

While that would be a beautiful story, the DBAP doesn’t have the type of footprint needed to expand to an MLB stadium. However, they are one of the most successful franchises in the minors and have a history that will keep them in Durham forever.

Hence why the movement is about bringing MLB to Raleigh.

If you wonder how that would all go down, we’ve explored that in great detail. We’ve also shown an example of how an almost identical situation of a AAA and MLB team within 30 miles has played out very successfully since 1977.

https://mlbraleigh.com/durham-bulls/

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@Loup20
Two questions…
Are ya’ll going to stay “sold out” of items in your “shop”? You can’t get your name out if I can’t buy the merchandise…:grinning:
And second, have you considered going directly to Malik and John Kane for a discussion regarding MLB and other stadiums at there site? :thinking:

@DowntownRaleighGuy

  1. We are honestly trying to stay in stock with everything. We’ve sold over 200 shirts already. A full restock happened on Monday and we’re down to just a few left today. As for the hats, we wanted to do them right and fully custom, so restocking those have a longer turnaround. We’ll have those on April 13th at the Trophy event. Shipping has caused us a little lag because we all have families and 9-5 jobs and are doing this for no pay, but we wanted to make sure we are packaging and shipping everything to ensure a quality product and experience. We’re trying our best on this and slowly ironing out the kinks.

  2. We positioned this so the community would be in charge of it, driving it and taking ownership of it. We specifically did not approach investors from the get-go because while we had a lot of data, the question was whether or not this area would rally behind baseball. If they didn’t care, then why would investors? Having grown up around baseball here, we thought it would gain some traction, but it has certainly surpassed our early expectations. It’s still a long game and MLB won’t expand for a while, so we will continue rallying the community and throwing events with all profits going to the Boys and Girls Club. Eventually, yes, our goal is to have discussions with people who could really make something happen. There are things in motion around that.

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I guess one of the main frustrations I have with the Bring MLB to Raleigh campaign is that its ostensible purpose is to “start a discussion” about bringing an MLB team here. But anytime someone wants to discuss any potential challenges this would entail, all of the sudden the attitude is, “Whoa, we don’t want to start a discussion about any of that stuff. We just want to discuss how awesome it would be.”

This is most obvious with the stadium financing aspect because this is an extremely obvious challenge that would have to be overcome. This is not actually a “Why it can’t happen” narrative but rather a “Is this actually a good idea?” narrative. “Who will pay for the stadium?” is not a “question with no answer,” and in a democracy it is not and should not be a question that is “completely out of any of our control.” In fact, it’s a question that would be very much within the control of the citizens of Raleigh and/or Wake County, and a question that would definitely need to have some sort of an answer.

It’s also not a “hypothetical.” If MLB ever came to Raleigh, a stadium would have to be built, and someone would have to pay for it. It’s not hypothetical at all. So I’m not looking to “suppress excitement because it’s going to be tough,” I’m trying to think this thing through to its logical conclusion, which is a prudent thing to do before considering any major investment of time and resources. (Also, Portland doesn’t have a “stadium plan,” they just have a vague aspiration that they would like to build a stadium with public money.)

Also, there’s zero evidence that bringing an MLB team to Raleigh would have any impact at all on the region’s growth or prosperity. Raleigh is going to be just fine, with or without any particular league’s sports franchise.

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@daviddonovan We have content pieces planned around stadium usage by sport and potential tax generation (pros and cons), around investment groups and around the funding of stadiums. We will look at how all of this is being done across the nation. Instead of saying what Raleigh should do, we first want to educate on what is being done elsewhere. What is working, what is failing and why? Then the community can have a much more educated conversation about these pieces of the puzzle and get a full picture of what a successful integration of a pro franchise looks like.

So we are not trying to dodge the tough questions. We will get to all of that, just not right off the bat.

What we are focusing on is a phased approach with clear objectives. Right now, we are just rallying support, organizing baseball fans who love this area and educating them on current small market MLB cities and how our region fits in.

If you try to say everything at once, it becomes diluted, complicated and disorganized as a larger conversation and we want to avoid that.

This is specifically why we launched without a team name, or without a defined colorway. Obviously, you’ll eventually need a team name and a uniform. But today, if we launched and the conversation was all about team names and uniform colors then we would have missed the mark. Sure that is a conversation that HAS to happen at some point, but before we can discuss what our team would be, we need to highlight the reasons it’s possible to have a team in the first place.

If the community believes that this is a viable market based on the data (and it is) and they like baseball then there will be inherent interest. If you create interest it’s easier to get attention. When you have attention you can have a much larger, more organized conversation with everyone involved and everyone on the same page.

For instance, we want the team name/ logo/ color discussion to be part of a community conversation and exploration. We talk about brand on this forum almost every week. Well, by using baseball as a vehicle, we are going to bring together some of the most creative folks in this city for an exploration of city brand (colors/logos) and invite the entire community to join in, and weigh in.

You obviously are welcome to point out flaws in this or bring up the “tough” questions whenever you’d like, but just be assured that we will address every angle, be it positive or negative, at some point in this campaign.

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I think it is a long shot because Raleigh is on the small side but I do think it could be successful here. In some ways I feel like the longer it takes for expansion the better for Raleigh because the area is growing at a faster rate than the most of the competitive cities. Still, it seems tough to beat out cities like Montreal, Portland, San Antonio Austin, Mexico City, Monterey, and yes even Charlotte.

That being said, I personally would absolutely support MLB Raleigh and would probably buy a mini season ticket pack.

I was in DC when the Nationals first came and it was really cool to see the city adopt the team.

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Going back to the map for geographic support of MLB teams, it makes me wonder about how much clout each team has over its turf… Like for example, Charlotte might be listed as Braves territory, bur how much big is the magnitude of that compared to Atlanta? I have a feeling that missing information could help strengthen/question our thoughts about if NC can support a team.

Also see: light/commuter rail, MLS, the beginning of many threads on this site, etc.

But!!

I’m not sure about you, @daviddonovan, but I feel super reassured by reading this. Just the fact that the campaign is (I hope) willing to be attentive to the details as soon as they’re backstage, I don’t think building up hype and aspiration is too big of an issue.

It’s exactly as you said; there’s a real risk of the general public not wanting to have the wonky, dry, but imperative conversations that need to happen for an MLB team to truly succeed. But I feel like that’s a policy/education problem on the part of Raleigh citizens than it is on the campaign; as long as the people on the inside know to look at those factors critically, does public perception matter as much?

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Hey Raleigh, “I am looking to build a entertainment district stadium with an emphasis on soccer and immediately move in a pro level women’s team and tier 2 men’s team. I’ll use my own money, partner with the most respected developer in the area and only request restaurant/ hotel designated dollars”

Raleigh’s response, “ lets “envision” baseball even though we have zero developer interest and two existing minor league teams in a 25 mile radius”

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Growing up in Asheville, it was very solidly Braves territory. That said, some people did adopt the Hornets and Panthers when they sprouted up and they might do the same for Baseball. No idea how strongly Braves-supporting Charlotte is, since it is near the event horizon of the Yankees black hole, I would assume not very.

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Lol right. And let’s remember, soccer is actually the sport with the most momentum and largest participation globally, and I know way way way more people who play/played soccer than baseball. When I was in highschool FIFA was the most popular sports video game. The world cup stirs way more attention than the world series.

Also baseball is boring

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The MLB Raleigh movement is not INSTEAD of the MLS movement. MLS is expanding now, MLB is expanding in 3-5 years. Cities vying for MLB teams are ramping up organizational movements now, and Raleigh shouldn’t fall behind and have to play catch-up when/if the time comes.

As for using a global stat to dissuade a certain sport in a in a US city, it doesn’t really prove anything and as of 2017 baseball/softball had more participation than any other team sport in the US.

You personally may not like it, but a lot of people do.

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You’re right, and I apologize. I couldn’t resist inserting my dissenting opinion. Of course it would be awesome if MLB expanded here, as well as MLS. I see MLS being more realistic as we have a proposal to make it happen in hand, so it seems more salient to discuss as @Marco pointed out. But it really doesn’t matter to me, I’m not a huge sports guy anyways. Best of luck to MLB and MLS Raleigh movements.

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@keita One of the concerns I have about the MLB to Raleigh campaign is that it has so far been very selective in how detail-oriented it’s been. For instance, on one hand, clearly a lot of love went into the stadium renderings, and they’re all properly oriented per MLB guidelines. But detailed stadium renderings seem like an odd thing to start with on day one of the launch, and one of the proposed designs is on six acres (much too small for an MLB stadium) with a railroad running past (definitely not something you could “incorporate” into the stadium as long as NCRR exists).

Most importantly, though, that land is also the site of the planned City Gateway building that’s been talked about a lot on this site and is currently pre-leasing. I realize they haven’t actually broken ground yet, but you can literally call them up today and reserve office space in the building going up where the purported stadium is supposed to go. And the response from the MLB folks on the generic sports thread was definitely not “Oh, gee, thanks for pointing that out.” So if the response to easy questions like “Can we build a stadium on the same six acres where they’re building City Gateway?” has not been welcoming of constructive criticism, I’m skeptical that the attitude is going to get more collaborative when we get to hard questions like, “Where would we find more than half a billion dollars to pay for this?”

Also, a lot of things that should be couched as maybe statements are put forth as absolutes. A few comments up, it’s said that “MLB is expanding in 3-5 years” like it’s an established fact. Well, maybe, maybe not. The commissioner of MLB has said that MLB is not expanding until Tampa Bay and Oakland both get their stadium situations worked out, and Tampa Bay has an ironclad lease in its current stadium through 2027. In truth, MLB is probably going to expand at some point in the relatively near future, but we don’t know when, and we can’t say for sure it’s going to happen at all, but it’s probably not going to happen in the next five years.

Similarly, a page on the MLB to Raleigh site very strongly implies that the Bulls could certainly keep right on humming as a AAA team even after Raleigh gets an MLB team, based on a single instance in baseball history where two cities only slightly further apart than Raleigh and Durham have supported both an MLB and AAA team. Would that work here in Raleigh and Durham? Maybe! But maybe not. Again, it would be much more accurate to say that we don’t really know how an MLB team in Raleigh would affect the Bulls. They’d almost certainly continue to exist in some fashion, but attendance would likely go down, and it’s quite possible they might even have to bump down a level or two given that current Bulls fans would be among the most logical customers for an MLB team in Raleigh.

And, sure, it’s not a binary either/or with MLB and MLS, but paying for one team’s stadium makes it really hard to find the money to pay for another stadium, so at some point they become competitors for the public largesse.

Putting off the hard questions to the end of a project and hand-waving away any potential obstacles is not a recipe for success in any endeavor.

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Blockquote The MLB Raleigh movement is not INSTEAD of the MLS movement.

This is definitely not the attitude you’re taking in other sports thread, though, where there’s been a lot of talk about how we should be very cautious about building a soccer stadium at Penmarc because it would limit our flexibility to maybe someday build a baseball stadium there.

@evan.j.bost Ironically, the fact that soccer is so wildly popular globally is actually handicapping MLS’s growth. You probably already know all of this, but MLB is far and away the most lucrative and best baseball league in the world, whereas MLS faces a ton of competition for the American soccer fan’s attention and is (at least as a television product) the third most popular league in the US behind Liga MX and the Premier League. That’s a big part of why MLS’s core business is still not profitable.

@daviddonovan Hm. I think the stance I’m taking is pretty consistent everywhere. My personal stance is that it’s all about timing. If MLS gets announced and MLB is still a ways off then build a soccer stadium and bring MLS. We’ll deal with the MLB prospects when the time comes.

At the same time, I’m wary of building a ‘permanent’ soccer stadium downtown before getting awarded a franchise because MLS expanding further is not official and I think it’s a gamble to tie up that type of county money on a bet, especially with baseball expansion looming.

I just believe keeping options open or making the $380 mil contingent on getting a franchise is the smartest move for Raleigh. But again, that’s just my opinion.

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tldr?

I think they just want to generate buzz and put Raleigh in the mix for expansion teams. You can’t expect these guys to have a 100% perfect plan but it gets people talking.

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