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Greener Grass: Looking at Potential Relocation Spots

Is there a better market outside of the Bay Area?


This is a question I see posed on AN in many forms. Sometimes it is “the A’s should move to Charlotte!” Or it could be, “Sacramento is perfect for an MLB team.” And still, “Portland is the logical next place for MLB to move a franchise.”

In all, I have read opinions that have included San Antonio, Charlotte, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Portland and Salt Lake City as potential places for the A’s to move. But do any of these potential landing spots have some basis in fact?

 

The first thing we have to do is understand how teams make their money. Ticket sales to average Joe’s and average Jane’s, and then getting us to buy 12 dollar beers, is one. Another is corporate money, be it suite sales, club seats, signage, etc. Lastly, it is local media revenue.

All teams also make money from MLB sources, national media, internet revenue and in some cases revenue sharing checks. Because none of this is really dependent on the local market (except for revenue sharing, arguably) I am leaving these MLB based revenue streams out.

Now that we agree (“we” being me and the frog in my pocket) on some high level revenue streams, we have our criteria for judging each of these markets. Now we have to figure out a plausible way to measure each of these potential revenue streams. The metrics I have chosen are simple to follow.

For Average Joe and Jane money, using the Census MSA and CMSA to gauge the population of a market is the easiest. Were we (me and the frog in my pocket) actually working for a major league team we would care about things like median incomes and population density, but we don’t so we don’t. But we will include those numbers anyway.

For Corporate Money we will figure out how many Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in a particular region. Of course, there is no guarantee that being the only game in town for a particular sport will mean that all of these corporations will spend a lot of money on that team in that sport (see the fact that the Warriors are the 18th most valuable franchise whilst playing in the 6th most populous region and one flush with Fortune 1000 companies, but I digress) but at least it will show what the potential for corporate revenue streams is.

For Local Media Money we will simply show where the market ranks. This is slightly different than Census MSA numbers. A good example of this is that Sacramento is a larger media market than MSA. This is because Sacramento’s media market includes every where from Modesto to Chico, which may be good for people wanting to advertise something on TV, but is not so good for getting actual people to games on Tuesday nights.

So, how do they rank? A quick caveat, I will use Oakland to represent the Bay Area for this little article. I understand there are people who would like to see the A’s move to San Jose and that will require a different view, in particular a more micro view of the region.

Average Joe and Jane Index:

Oakland
CMSA: 7.2 Million, 6th largest in the country
MSA: 4.2 Million, 12th largest in the country
Population Density: 7,126 per square mile
Median Income: $40,055

San Antonio
CMSA: Not part of a CMSA
MSA: 1.9 Million, 28th largest in the country
Population Density: 2,808 per square mile
Median Income: $36,214

Charlotte
CMSA: 2.2 Million, 20th largest in the country
MSA: 1.6 Million, 35th largest in the country
Population Density: 2,515 per square mile
Median Income: $48,670

Sacramento
CMSA: 2.3 Million, 19th largest in the country
MSA: 2 Million, 25th largest in the country
Population Density: 4,711 per square mile
Median Income: $37,049

Las Vegas
CMSA: 1.8 Million, 25th largest in the country
MSA: 1.8 Million, 30th largest in the country
Population Density: 4,154 per square mile
Median Income: $53,000

Portland
CMSA: Not part of a CMSA
MSA: 2.2 Million, 23rd largest in the country
Population Density: 4,199 per square mile
Median Income: $40, 146

Salt Lake City
CMSA: 1.7 Million, 27th largest in the country
MSA: 1 Million, 48th largest in the country
Population Density: 1,666 per square mile
Median Income: $36,994

Clearly, none of these markets are a good alternative to Oakland. I have read arguments that a less dense population means that a team can get fans from further away. That would have to be true, and extremely true, in order for any of these markets to compare to Oakland/Bay Area. They all have way smaller populations, even if you cut the CMSA in half to account for the Bay Area having two baseball teams, there are more people in the Bay Area. The Median Income being higher in a few of these cities doesn’t really change the fact that there are just not as many people. In short, there is no Washington DC out there to be had.

So after the AJandJ Index, the score is The Town 1, every where else 0.

Next is the Corporate Dollars Index, also known as the “They Will Use Bailout Money to Buy Luxury Boxes” Index. Without more meandering, each area and the number of Fortune 1000 companies:

North Carolina- 26
Nevada- 10
Oregon- 6
Utah- 4
San Antonio- 8 (this includes Austin)
Sacramento- 1
Bay Area- 57

So does anyone notice anything about the first 4? Yep, entire states have less Fortune 1000 companies than the Bay Area. In the vein of being completely honest, Oakland and Alameda actually only have 1 a piece out of the 57, but still isn’t it pretty telling? Wow.

After the CDI it is Bay Area 2, everywhere else 0.

Finally we come to the Media Market Index, or the how many people will watch this game on TV, listen on the radio and how can we monetize that through advertising index. The numbers:

Bay Area- 6th largest
Sacramento- 20th largest
Portland- 22nd largest
Charlotte- 24th largest
Salt Lake City- 33rd largest
San Antonio- 37th largest
Las Vegas- 42nd largest

Well. This needs little elaboration. Bay Area 3, everywhere else 0. It’s true that some of these media markets are larger than existing MLB markets, but does the league really want another Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Kansas City, etc? Not to demean the fans in those cities, just saying from a media revenue perspective, they aren’t doing much.

So there you have it (from me and the frog in my pocket). Unequivocally (even if my grammar is horrible) the Bay Area is best. Now, the next question is “where in the Bay Area?” Stay tuned…

 

The sequel is out now

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