May 13, 2024 - News

The grassroots effort making the case for an MLB team in Raleigh

A pennant that says Bring MLB to Raleigh

Photo: Courtesy of MLB Raleigh

Long before Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon took up the cause, a few friends were daydreaming at a bar in 2019 about Raleigh landing a Major League Baseball expansion team.

Why it matters: That conversation — unlike many that take place over drinks — turned into the grassroots MLB Raleigh movement that's put momentum and community behind the city's potential bid.

Driving the news: Founded by N.C. State alums Lou Pascucci, Ryan Foose and Will Gadd, MLB Raleigh has held events that bring thousands of baseball fans together and designed merch that is spreading throughout the Triangle.

  • The group's hats — featuring a prominent cursive R — have become particularly popular, with MLB Raleigh selling around 7,000 so far and new designs frequently selling out quickly, according to Foose. (Foose, a graphic designer, has created many sports logos.)
  • The group constantly sifts through data, tracking Raleigh's TV market and how it is larger than other expansion hopefuls like Nashville, Salt Lake City and San Antonio — and essentially tied with Charlotte and Portland.

Between the lines: Grassroots efforts by fans can have a real impact, helping convince decision-makers that an idea is worth pursuing because people will be there to support it.

  • Last decade, after years of lobbying, the Bring Back the Buzz campaign in Charlotte, for example, helped bring back the Charlotte Hornets moniker to replace the less popular Charlotte Bobcats nickname.
  • Foose says MLB Raleigh meets regularly with government officials, Dundon's team and community groups.

Reality check: Despite the momentum Raleigh's seen with Dundon coming aboard and political leaders working behind the scenes, landing a team is extremely competitive.

  • It would probably be 2028 before any new teams start competing, the Associated Press noted.
  • Dundon will likely need more financial backers on board and a public-private stadium partnership to land a team.

What they're saying: "We really feel strongly that there is no other city [looking to land an MLB team] that has the financial, political and community support to the level of Raleigh," Foose told Axios.


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