America’s Pastime Conspicuously Absent in Several Sports-Rich States

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Charlotte, NC

Passionate, loyal fanbases. Massive stadiums and arenas. Storied athletic traditions. Several states in the U.S. boast enviable résumés when it comes to college and professional sports. Yet one glaring omission remains on their otherwise stellar sports culture report cards — the lack of a Major League Baseball franchise to call their own.

North Carolina epitomizes this paradox. The Tar Heel State is utterly obsessed with college basketball thanks to perennial powerhouses like Duke, UNC, NC State, and Wake Forest that have cultivated top NBA talents such as Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, and Steph Curry. The Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton electrify NFL fans every fall Sunday. NASCAR, headquartered in Charlotte, draws huge crowds eagerly placing bets now that North Carolina has legalized sports betting in North Carolina. But despite such a rich sports fabric woven into North Carolinians’ identities, MLB remains notably absent from the tapestry.

Tennessee shares this strange dynamic of being a major player across the sports landscape while lacking baseball’s presence. College football reigns supreme with over 100,000 Vol fans packing Neyland Stadium in the fall. The Memphis Grizzlies further bolster the state’s sportscape. Yet MLB has not thrown Tennesseans a curveball in decades. Kentucky has emerged as a basketball epicenter thanks to the University of Kentucky Wildcats program sparking huge passion. But while Lexington fills Rupp Arena, MLB bats collecting hits and dust. Even Alaska, home to earnest minor league hockey fandom, features those long summer nights better suited for midnight sun baseball.

Of course, college baseball and minor league affiliates pacify these unconventional sports cities and states. SEC baseball games hosted in Tennessee deliver consolation. Alaskans take solace in the long-running Alaska Baseball League summer tradition. But make no mistake — these rabid sports cultures feel incomplete without MLB as part of their sporting soul and identity. After all, nothing better captures a region’s spirit than an MLB franchise to passionately support as the home team. So while these spots remain curiosities as baseball black holes, expansion talks continue as the league looks to untapped markets. MLB hunger for more of the proven sports frenzies places like Charlotte, Nashville, New Orleans, and Portland can provide. For no state so steeped in athletic tradition should be without a MLB team to loyally cheer year after year as flags and pennants flutter in their ever-hopeful summer breezes.

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