Could San Antonio support an MLB team?

As you may have heard, Major League Baseball is starting to talk about expansion, potentially adding two more teams in the next few years. San Antonio is on the list of possible destinations for MLB, sometimes paired with Austin, which helps them from a population perspective but seems to ignore the distance and horrible traffic between those cities.

Be that as it may, San Antonio is being talked about, and that’s always a good thing. But how realistic is it all? Maybe not so much, at least not yet.

San Antonio sports commentator Mike Jimenez drew a flurry of online criticism for saying San Antonio will have trouble landing another professional sports team because the city is “poor” and “lacks visionaries.”

The comment came during an episode of the Alamo City Sportscast, a podcast during which he and co-host Joe Garcia discussed a recent ESPN article ranking the San Antonio-Austin region among the top contenders to land an MLB expansion team.

“San Antonio does nothing big,” Jimenez said. “There’s not one visionary in San Antonio. I guess probably the biggest visionary we’ve had over the years is [former Mayor] Henry Cisneros.”

Garcia also said San Antonio remains a low-income city, adding that a MLB expansion team is far more likely to end up in Austin than here.

While Jimenez and Garcia caught flak for their blunt talk about the Alamo City, some scholars said their assessment is pretty close. Others, however, said the metro area’s brisk growth and its hunger for sports may outshine its lack of financial heft.

“Not only is San Antonio poor relative to its neighbors, especially in this case Austin, but San Antonio is the seventh-largest city by population and is still only the 31st-largest media market,” said Char Miller, a professor at California’s Pomona College who’s written extensively about the history of San Antonio.

“[San Antonio] is a big place, but it can’t generate the advertising and ratings necessary to support major league teams,” Miller added.


In 2022, 18.7% of San Antonio’s 1.4 million residents lived in poverty, according to the latest American Community Survey. The Census Bureau defines poverty as an individual earning less than $13,590 or a family of four earning less than $29,960.

For reference, Dallas’ poverty rate was 17.8%, and Austin’s was only 11%, according to the survey.

San Antonio’s residents earn considerably less than their counterparts in other Texas cities.

Workers in the San Antonio metro brought home $27.90 an hour on average last year – $3.37 less than the average hourly wage in Texas and far less than the national average of $33.22 an hour — according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

So, when Jimenez and Garcia say that San Antonio is poor, they’re not lying. And that’s a real hindrance to professional sports leagues, according to Pomona College’s Miller.

“One of the issues [of being poor] is having fewer television sets,” Miller said. “In a place like San Antonio, which is soccer-mad, there is not a Major League Soccer team. That’s pretty astonishing until you question how that team would generate off-field income, and television is the key there.”

Miller also said San Antonio’s lackluster airport with few direct non-stop flights, especially when compared to DFW International or Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport, poses another hindrance.

“That also becomes problematic in trying to think about the nature of an economy, which is both about transportation, corporate presence and television,” Miller said. “It’s hard to imagine how San Antonio pulls itself out of that hole, which is largely, but not exclusively, of its own making.”

There’s more, so go read the rest. If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you may recall that Char Miller was one of my history professors at Trinity, and he’s written extensively about San Antonio’s history. I’m not sure who Houston’s counterpart to him is. It’s not all gloom and doom for San Antonio, which is a growing city and likely to remain on the radar for major sports teams in the future. But maybe its time isn’t now. Read the rest and see what you think.

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