It’s been 60 years since the Brooklyn Dodgers headed west. With the Subway Series underway, there’s no better time to consider making New York City a three-team town once more.
Bring on the Brooklyn Robinsons. (What else would you call them?)
If you don’t think the city can sustain three Major League teams the way it did for a half a century up until 1957, when the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees were all here, think again.
In 1957, the city’s population was around 7.8 million people. Now it’s at 8.55 million and growing. Surely some of those newcomers are baseball fans?
And never mind the whole city.
By 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Brooklyn alone will reach 2.75 million, which would be greater than that of the entire city of Chicago — and they have two teams. It’s also worth noting that one of those teams is the defending World Series Champion Cubs.
One big question is, where would the Robinsons play?
As ‘Field of Dreams’ taught us, to paraphrase lightly, “if you build it, they will come.”
Granted, that was said in a corn field in Dubuque County, Iowa where property is a bit less expensive than in Brooklyn, but the point is the same. There’s already a great little stadium on Coney Island that could probably be made bigger should the Mets be motivated to move the Cyclones.
Imagine having beachgoers picnicking on the other side of a major league home run wall, waiting for long balls to come their way. What an aerial shot that would be on Sunday Night Baseball.
Try and imagine a better day at the ballpark than an afternoon game with some Nathan’s franks, followed by a night of rides on the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel? It’s unlikely that businesses around Luna Park would object to being busy on weeknights for six months a year. Where would people park? They wouldn’t. They’d use the MTA, which definitely needs the money.
While Coney Island is ideal, whatever neighborhood wound up getting the park would surely be every bit as charming as where the Yankees and Mets play now. And those clubs have combined to win 10 World Series titles in the time they’ve been the only two teams in town. Granted, eight of those belong to the Yankees.
The league could always license another team, though there’s no need while a perfectly good organization is going to waste in Tampa.
Since first taking the field in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays have consistently been among the league’s bottom-dwellers in terms of attendance, despite being relatively competitive.
It’s unlikely that anyone would notice if they left. Besides, their dome is such an architectural eye sore that fans like me won’t even watch days games played there because it’s too dark and depressing.
Tampa’s 2017 opening day payroll was $69,982,520. Please. That would not be the case in NYC where the Yankees spent $223,110,039 and the Mets $156,444,127. A good strip club spends $70 million a year on talent here.
The Rays saw a 27% bump in revenue last year, though they’re still the least valuable team in the league at $825 million, according to Forbes. The Yankees by comparison are reportedly worth $3.7 billion. Bring the whole organization up north and tell them to sell their homes in Tampa to the Yankees who spend spring training there.
It’s hard to imagine that Rays owner Stuart L. Sternberg, a Brooklyn native born in 1959, wouldn’t get a little warm and fuzzy about hosting a heroic homecoming. Surely he could get a meeting with our Brooklyn-loving mayor.
No doubt three teams could be competitive here.
Between 1921 and 1955, there were 13 Subway Series in New York — and we’re talking World Series.
And who wouldn’t enjoy seeing Brooklyn battle the Yankees and the Red Sox in the AL East?
For now, the reality of the Robinsons coming to Kings County probably won’t go beyond barstool banter between stat-geeks and dreamers. But baseball is all about what-ifs.