Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Philadelphia and Rochester best bets for new MLS teams

According to study of US markets, Philadelphia, PA, and Rochester, NY, are the best bets for MLS expansion teams.

They came to this decision by looking at the total personal income of 179 US cities. They then figured out how much personal income is needed to support a team. This figure was reached by looking at things like the number of games each year and the cost of tickets.

For Major League Soccer, $16.1 billion of personal income is needed to support a team. Here are the numbers for other major sports.

National Football League - $33.0 billion
National Hockey League - $35.7 billion
National Basketball Association - $38.4 billion
Major League Baseball - $89.2 billion

As you can see, MLS is the cheapest of all leagues examined. This means that 73 of the 179 markets (minus those that already have a team) they analyzed could support a MLS franchise. Of these 73, the top two were Philly and Rochester.

Here is the reasoning:

Philadelphia already has franchises in the four major sports. MLS is seeking markets that offer ethnic diversity and large television audiences. Both are in abundance in Philly, the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area. The region has three times the surplus income needed amount to support a professional soccer team.

Rochester dropped out of the spotlight when the NBA skipped town in 1957. Three factors make MLS its best vehicle for a comeback: Rochester is soccer-crazy, drawing capacity crowds for its minor-league team. It's home to major corporations such as Eastman Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb. And its personal income is nearly three times the size required for an MLS franchise.

They also looked at which markets were over run with pro teams. Oddly enough, 2 MLS teams are in such markets. Both Denver (Colorado Rapids) and Kansas City are in markets that cannot support all the teams they currently have.

Here is their take on these two cities:

There's a new arena going up in Kansas City, inspiring brave talk about pursuing a franchise in the NBA or NHL. But the hard truth is that the city has already lost teams in both of those leagues, and rumors have the Wizards ticketed for departure, too. The outlook isn't much sunnier for the Royals, who drew fewer fans than every MLB team but Tampa Bay in 2005.

Just seven markets boast big-league franchises in all four major sports plus outdoor soccer. Six of those areas are gigantic, each with more than 4 million people. At the tail end is Denver, with a metropolitan population below 2.5 million. The Nuggets once struggled in this competitive environment, but are now on an upswing. The Rockies and Rapids are having the most trouble today.

By the way, the city that is most over their level of pro team support is Tampa Bay.

Update: I thought you all might like to know how cities most often mentioned for expansion look in this survey.

MarketTotal IncomeAvailable Income
St. Louis$104.8B-$53.1B
San Diego$104.6B-$17.6B
San Jose$375.5B$57.0B

As you can see, with the exception of Philadelphia and San Jose, none of these towns can support a team. Maybe placing a team back in San Jose will become a priority after all. While we're at it, why not just cap the Raging Rhinos for a franchise.



Blogger Crew Fan said...

People (myself included) have been saying for years that Rochester would make an ideal city for an MLS team. Who knows, maybe it'll eventually actually happen. (Besides, it'll give me bragging rights for actually predicting something accurately!)

7:49 PM  
Blogger Jarrett said...

Good find, interesting article.

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