CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Uptown Charlotte was alive with the crack of bats Tuesday night, as the Charlotte Knights opened up the first series of the season at home. Between the minor league team, the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and newly-minted Charlotte FC, the Queen City has no shortage of pro sports to enjoy.
But Rick Curti still feels like a big player is missing.
"I would love to see a major league baseball team," Curti said.
Curti has taken to the philosophy that "if you build it, they will come," creating mock jerseys, hats and logos for what he sees as Charlotte's would-be major league ball club, the Charlotte Bats.
He has been pushing to make his baseball dream a reality for the last seven years.
"When I first started this, people were like, 'Oh, we can't support this,'" Curti said. "It's too small of a city, too small of a market, like, it's a college town."
Now, Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., and its professional sports profile has grown again with its inaugural Major League Soccer season kicking off last month. However, the city is in a unique position as the only U.S. city with NBA, NFL, and MLS teams, but no MLB team.
Curti thinks the new soccer team sends a signal that the area could be ready to change that.
"That shows people that Charlotte is a great haven for professional sports," Curti said.
The Queen City is seemingly on MLB's radar, with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred noting in recent years that it could be suitable as an expansion city.
During a Town Hall during FanFest ahead of the 2017 MLB All-Star Game, he responded to a fan's question about team expansions with "Charlotte's a possibility," while also noting that the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays would need to get settled in new ballparks before such an expansion could be discussed.
New stadium talks for the two teams have been ongoing for years and are still underway.
Meantime, there are no indications that Charlotte-area leaders are making plans to house an MLB team any time soon.
When asked about MLB's future in Charlotte, Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said she did not know about any specific discussions, writing, "if there are plans, the city council has not been included on any conversations that I am aware of."
Still, Curti cannot help but think Charlotte's shot at the majors is coming.
"It'll bring jobs," Curti said. "It'll bring billions of dollars to our economy and provide a fun family atmosphere."
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