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MLB expansion: Is San Antonio a candidate?

An ESPN poll suggests there might be more fan support for an expansion team in the Alamo City than previously thought.

Relocation and expansion are always in the minds of sports fans in cities with the potential for more top-level professional teams.

San Antonio has always been a one-team city in love with the Spurs, with minor league baseball, hockey and soccer. A new pro football team is coming in February in the new Alliance of American Football, but there are still tons of unanswered questions about that league.

Here's what we know, though: San Antonio, like Texas, continues to grow. The Alamo City is already one of the ten most populous cities in the U.S., and its projected growth should make it an appealing target for any league. However, you don't often hear San Antonio mentioned in talks as a destination for a new franchise.

Until now.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has voiced his support for the league's expansion to 32 teams. He even has a list of potential candidates. "Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville in the United States, certainly Montreal, maybe Vancouver, in Canada," Manfred said. "We think there’s places in Mexico we could go over the long haul.”

In a story on ESPN, Bradford Doolittle made the case for San Antonio to be considered as well. The city's selling points include usable land and a bilingual audience that would help connect the league with its Latin audience.

Readers of the piece seem to agree. A poll attached to the article has over 41,000 votes and sees San Antonio as a firm contender. Montreal, which had a franchise until 2004, is the leading vote-getter. The Canadian city has been long considered the next in line when it comes to MLB expansion. But San Antonio is polling evenly with Portland and Nashville and ahead of Las Vegas and Charlotte. Those all cities Manfred mentioned that already have Triple-A teams.

San Antonio will have a Triple-A team starting in 2019, but where they will play isn't set in stone for the long-term future. Wolff Stadium will need expansion to meet Triple-A standards, let alone MLB standards. And the Alamodome has hosted exhibition games, but doesn't make sense as the 81-game home of a franchise right now.

Credit: KENS
The Texas Rangers defeated the San Diego Padres, 5-2, to complete a two-game sweep in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 fans at the Alamodome on Saturday, March 30, 2013.

But this is a long-term question - more like 15 years than two or three years down the road. As with the Final Four, though, these things get planned years in advance, so San Antonio can't be a "dark horse" forever. At some point, we're either a candidate for expansion or we're not.

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