On Wednesday, former Orlando Magic general manager Pat Williams held a press conference to introduce the Orlando Dreamers -- Williams' vision for a Major League Baseball team located in central Florida. Because the Dreamers concept came out of left field, it's reasonable to have questions about the whole thing. As such, we've put together a guide below with answers to (hopefully) most of your concerns.
Who is Pat Williams?
Williams is, as mentioned, a former NBA general manager who helped co-found the Orlando Magic. He announced his retirement from the Magic back in the spring, but apparently decided he would prefer to stay active in sports by pursuing a baseball team.
Does he have any experience with baseball?
Quite a bit, actually. Williams was a professional ballplayer in the 1960s, and later served as an executive on the minor-league side of things. He was also involved in efforts to land Orlando an expansion team during the '90s. (You can read more about his efforts by clicking here.)
Any similarities between this and his old attempts?
There sure are. Williams likes to give the league reason to believe his groups are outpacing and/or more serious than other parties. Back in the day, that meant buying a minor-league franchise (to gain territorial rights) and hiring a manager and front-office staff -- all for a team that never existed. The Dreamers website is encouraging people to sign up to show MLB how serious the market is -- that's similar to what Williams did to land the Magic, going door-to-door and acquiring signatures to prove a fan base was in place. That Williams also broke out a logo and gear for the Dreamers fits with his MO.
Is there a Dreamers logo?
You bet. It, uh, doesn't really stand out, though.
Is there any chance the Dreamers become a reality?
You never want to say never, but it looks unlikely as of today. According to the Dreamers' website, the group has no owner and has no land deal in place. That means they lack money and/or potential stadium site -- arguably the two most important parts of any effort to land a team, be it an expansion club or otherwise. That Orlando is located in Florida, home to two franchises that don't draw, is probably not a plus, either.
Williams explained why he thought there could be more of an appetite for baseball in Orlando.
Now, Orlando MLB pitchman Pat Williams says in MLB choosing Miami and Tampa Bay, "It hasn't worked in either city.'' But of Orlando, "this market is different" and because of huge influx of tourists Orlando could draw 3 million fans and "could be one of best" markets in country— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 20, 2019
What about the Rays?
It's fair to wonder about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Rays moving to Orlando. (Lord knows it seems more realistic than Rays owner.) It's not apparent that Orlando would be a better market for the Rays, but it would prevent MLB from burning the central Florida market entirely by relocating the team elsewhere. Still, the Rays are locked into their St. Petersburg lease through the 2027 season, rendering most of this conversation moot.