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Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh: Who’s on deck for a pro baseball team?

All three cities are pitching themselves for an MLB team.

A baseball with the RALtoday logo on it in a catcher's mitt on a green background.

Will Raleigh be the next home of Major League Baseball?

Graphic by 6AM City

Put your caps on, grab a hot dog, and get ready to dodge (or catch) foul balls: baseball season is here. Plenty of cities are vying to be on deck for a Major League Baseball team, including some of our 6AM City markets. Here are our best pitches why our cities ought to be the next home base for the MLB. Plus, you can size up the competition + learn more about the swingin’ scene in other top cities.

Raleigh

With buzz forming thanks to movements like MLB Raleigh, Oak City is looking like a clear contender right off the bat. According to MLB Raleigh, the Triangle metro area population is in the same ballpark as other cities with MLB teams, like Kansas City and Cincinnati.

Raleigh is no stranger to America’s favorite pastime. In the 1920s, the Negro League thrived with teams like the Raleigh Grays, Tigers, and Tar Heels. Local minor league teams include the Durham Bulls + Carolina Mudcats. Plus, we have a college baseball scene that’s heating up which has produced MLB stars like Carlos Rodón and Trea Turner.

Right now, Raleigh has only been home to the Carolina Hurricanes, rocking PNC Arena since 1999, and Cary hosts the NC Courage and North Carolina FC just down the road. NC State men’s basketball also plays in PNC and welcomes other Tobacco Road rivals like UNC and Duke, making for a sports-loving city. What’s one more team?

Plus, NC is the most populous state in the US without an MLB team. And no offense CLTtoday, but the Queen City already has three top-level pro teams: The Hornets, Panthers, and Charlotte FC, and the area hosts frequent NASCAR races and a minor league baseball team. Time for Raleigh to step up to the plate.

Charlotte

Charlotte’s baseball history dates back to before the 1900s. The Biddle Stars, Charlotte Black Hornets, and Charlotte Red Sox were forces on the diamond in the days surrounding the Negro Carolina League. Since 2017, there’s been grassroots efforts to bring MLB to Charlotte. The Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, have graduated some budding major league stars, including pitchers Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech + sluggers José Abreu and Luis Robert, Jr.

The Queen City boasts a bigger population than other cities with MLB teams already established, like Atlanta and Cleveland. When it comes to the sport, baseball fans consistently sell out Knights games at Truist Field.

It’s true, Charlotte already has a number of pro teams, including the Panthers, Hornets, Knights, Charlotte FC, and the Checkers. And that doesn’t even factor in being a home for NASCAR. While the Carolina Hurricanes are just a short drive away in Raleigh, that doesn’t stop the team’s owner, Tom Dundon, from eyeing the Queen City as a candidate for an MLB team.

Nashville

Music City Baseball stepped up to the plate in 2019 with a mission to bring an MLB franchise to Nashville. Since then, it has enlisted the expertise of advisers Tony La Russa and Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, and gained backing from celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Luke Combs. Beyond MCB, Nashville also has support from the pros. In 2023, The Athletic asked 100 MLB players the best potential expansion city, and with 69% of the vote, Music City knocked it out of the park.

This will come as no curveball to Nashvillians, but baseball has deep roots here. The sport was played at Sulphur Dell from the late 1800s until 1963, first as home to the Nashville Americans (the city’s first professional baseball team) and later the Nashville Vols, the Nashville Stars (the name Music City Baseball hopes to revive), and many other teams. Baseball found its way back to the site in 2015 when the Nashville Sounds set up home base at the new First Horizon Park, where the team continues to rack up attendance records.

What’s on deck now? In February, Music City Baseball announced a site and market analysis of five spots, including three in Davidson County, one in Williamson, and one in Rutherford, which is expected to be completed this spring. If MLB makes a home in Music City, it would join three other professional teams — the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, and Nashville SC (plus, there are efforts to bring a professional women’s team to town).

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