Television market size: 1.14 million
Similarly sized MLB market: Pittsburgh (1.16 million)
You know who shouldn't be settling for their Triple A lot in life? Charlotte baseball fans.
No offense to the Charlotte Knights, the farm team for the Chicago White Sox, but this town shouldn't be anyone's stepping stone. It's only been a Triple A town for 20 years, it's wheeled through the Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins and White Sox organizations since then and has always had to wave goodbye to talent such as Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Jon Garland and Joe Crede.
Why? This town clearly cares enough about baseball to dump $54 million into a new stadium for the Knights -- BB&T Ballpark, which just opened this year. That park is already a block away from Bank of America Stadium -- home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers -- and joins the Charlotte Hornets' home in Time Warner Cable Arena as the latest additions to the city's sports landscape. If we're using Pittsburgh as a point of comparison, that town already supports the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins with little difficulty -- although the Pirates haven't made it easy over the past two decades.
Charlotte has a great corporate base and a whole lot of baseball acumen thanks to minor league and Atlantic Coast Conference teams. It's also within striking distance of National League towns in Washington, D.C., Cincinnati (each fewer than 500 miles away) and Atlanta, Ga. (which is 250 miles away).
What it doesn't have is a stadium seating more than 1,000 people. Remove that obstacle, and you've got yourself a Major League Baseball powerhouse.