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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Expansion fees for Major League Baseball teams could rise to $2.2 billion range

Major League Baseball would consider expansion fees in the range of $2.2 billion for new franchises, though there are no current plans to add teams.

Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke Tuesday during SporticoLive’s online discussion of its estimates to baseball franchise valuations. The company estimated the average MLB franchise value is $2.2 billion, led the New York Yankees at $6.75 billion.

Colorado and Miami paid $95 million each to join in 1993, and Arizona and Tampa Bay paid $130 million to join in 1998.

Manfred has said repeatedly that MLB will not consider expansion until the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays get new ballparks. The Athletics have proposed a stadium in the Howard Terminal area of downtown Oakland, and the Rays have said they will pursue splitting seasons between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal starting in 2028, after the expiration of their lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

No plans for those cities have been finalized.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 27, 2021 at 09:15 PM | 61 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: expansion

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 27, 2021 at 10:29 PM (#6015780)
Major League Baseball would consider expansion fees in the range of $2.2 billion for new franchises

C'mon journalism. Of course they would "consider" that. Even beyond Manfred's known willingness to consider anything, who wouldn't "consider" a $2.2 B franchise fee? I will consider selling my 8-year old Honda for $50,000 too.

Seeing as how Forbes only currently values 7 teams at $2.2 B or higher (the Cards at #7, even the Angels below $2.2 B) and there wouldn't seem be be any expansion markets better than Minneapolis or Phoenix (#19 and #20 around $1.3 B), $2.2 B seems a bit rich.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 27, 2021 at 10:57 PM (#6015785)
Yea, who is paying $2B to put a team in Nashville, Portland, or Montreal?
   3. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 27, 2021 at 11:54 PM (#6015796)
Yea, who is paying $2B to put a team in Nashville, Portland, or Montreal?


Sounds better to me than $1.2B to get the Marlins.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 28, 2021 at 12:38 AM (#6015799)
Sounds better to me than $1.2B to get the Marlins.
The Miami MSA is the 7th most populous in the U.S. Someone can make a lot of money turning that franchise around. However, it does seem unlikely anyone would pay more for an expansion team in a smaller market anytime soon.
   5. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 28, 2021 at 01:21 AM (#6015805)
The Miami MSA is the 7th most populous in the U.S.


And St. Louis is 10 spots behind Phoenix, 8 spots behind Oakland, 6 spots behind Detroit, and 2 spots behind Tampa. Pointing to the Miami market size as if it's a harbinger is more of the same foolishness which put a franchise there in the first place.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: April 28, 2021 at 01:38 AM (#6015807)
The Miami MSA is the 7th most populous in the U.S. Someone can make a lot of money turning that franchise around.

also, putting Rutgers in the Big Ten will make the entire NY/NJ market hang on every Scarlet Knight football game.

until it turned out, nobody cared - not even in New Jersey.

the Devils have the same problem. there isn't the "civic pride" angle that so many US markets have, for whatever the reason. just yawns
   7. Walt Davis Posted: April 28, 2021 at 03:11 AM (#6015808)
Pointing to the Miami market size as if it's a harbinger is more of the same foolishness which put a franchise there in the first place.

Can't disagree with that but pointing to Montreal, Portland or Nashville as if they are guaranteed to be nearly twice as valuable as Miami is not wise either.

It would be one thing if $2.2 B was the all-in cost including whatever stadium costs they bear, a large stake in a regional sports network, establishing minor league teams, operating costs for the X years before you start playing games, etc. Fortunately you can usually rent a city councilperson quite cheaply. Regardless, $2.2 B wouldn't even be the end of the investment.

Baseball is a weird game where tradition matters a lot. The relocated Nationals (#10 at $1.9 B) are the only team in the top half that haven't been in their market for 45+ years. That's why I pulled in the DBacks as a comp -- a bit over 20 years old, reasonable success, current value of $1.3 B. The Rox are also around $1.3 B. Tampa and Miami bring up the rear. For completeness, the Jays at #15 and Seattle at #16 around $1.6-$1.7 B. The only expansion franchises to hit it big are the Mets and Angels which just might have something to do with being in such massive markets.

Do you really expect Nashville, Portland, Charlotte, Vegas to be worth more than the Nats before they've played a single game? Will Montreal do better than the Jays? Or is it more likely this would be $2.2 B in franchise fees for a franchise worth $1.3 B? Cohen paid $2.4 B for the Mets, why would anybody pay that for the Nashville Swifts?
   8. dejarouehg Posted: April 28, 2021 at 08:51 AM (#6015815)
While any asset is theoretically worth what someone is willing to pay for it, there is the "good will" component, or in the case of sports franchises - especially expansion ones, I have too much money and always wanted to be a sports team owner ego component. They aren't paying $2.2 billion because the sucker, err I mean buyer expects to have a cash flow that they can cap out based on a certain income stream at a reasonable market rate. There'll be some Nashville group that will loop in Justin Timberlake and some country music folks.

Of course, 5 years later, especially if they are carrying big debt, they'll be part of the piss-and-moan group that is pleading for a salary cap because they can't compete with the NYY/CHC/LAD/BSX big boy group.

As for Miami, is there still any thought that they will ever have a passionate fan base that rivals even the Long Island Ducks? I don't think there's any conceivable population shift that will make it happen. There is no team in Florida, especially South Florida that has a really passionate fan base. Too many other things to do and enjoy there.

   9. dejarouehg Posted: April 28, 2021 at 08:56 AM (#6015818)
Do you really expect Nashville, Portland, Charlotte, Vegas to be worth more than the Nats before they've played a single game?


The answer is, you bet at least one or two of them will. Maybe Mark (Facebook) Z likes baseball. It's a pittance. Maybe Bezos wants a team. For about 3 months of his interest income he could pay for a team.

Cohen's purchase of an established team was based on, in part, cash flow and his lifelong desire to own a baseball team and not didn't have to give a **** if it was an investment that would withstand the scrutiny of a public company.
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 28, 2021 at 09:56 AM (#6015827)
I had forgotten about that Tampa Bay-Montreal split season plan...there are certain news bits that, at the time you first hear them, they seem so ridiculously far in the future that they don't even seem real. You go, "Geez, I'll be X years old when that finally happens!"

Then, one day you see that same news item mentioned, and it suddenly is not that far away, and you're like, "Holy sh*t - where did all that time go?"

That's the "When can the Rays finally get out of that terrible deal with their stadium" feeling. I just saw this, and realized that...suddenly...the date when the Rays can leave their stadium is within sight. Basically, in 6 1/2 seasons, they can get out of a lease I've been reading about for, what, 20 years? Time goes fast...

I hope Montreal build a gorgeous 32K stadium or something, and gets a team. Montreal is one of the few markets where the presence of an MLB team in a nice stadium would actually cause me to make a trip there every year as part of a long weekend vacation (Nashville is the same thing). There are very few other markets where I would say that (maybe Pittsburgh, only because I haven't been there, and the stadium looks so nice, and I wouldn't go there otherwise.)
   11. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: April 28, 2021 at 11:56 AM (#6015842)
This is Manfred signaling that there is zero appetite for expansion among ownership. “We might expand if we could put $140M in every owners pocket and more or less double franchise valuations overnight.” Yeah, I think owners might be interested in that scenario.
   12. dejarouehg Posted: April 28, 2021 at 01:00 PM (#6015844)
I hope Montreal build a gorgeous 32K stadium or something, and gets a team. Montreal is one of the few markets where the presence of an MLB team in a nice stadium would actually cause me to make a trip there every year as part of a long weekend vacation (Nashville is the same thing). There are very few other markets where I would say that (maybe Pittsburgh, only because I haven't been there, and the stadium looks so nice, and I wouldn't go there otherwise.)


Agree - would love to have a reason to go to MTL. Tennessee is great now if you like MiLB.

I did a Pittsburgh/Cleveland/Detroit stadium trek over 3-day weekend before 9/11. (Also hit the Football HoF for a couple of hours on the way.) Well worth the visit. Looking forward to going back to PNC shortly.
   13. Stevey Posted: April 28, 2021 at 01:13 PM (#6015846)
also, putting Rutgers in the Big Ten will make the entire NY/NJ market hang on every Scarlet Knight football game.


The Big Ten only wanted the BTN to be on cable providers in the NYC area to get the fees. They really couldn't give much of a crap if you guys turned it on or not.

The number of subscribers went up 15% by getting into NYC and DC.
   14. Rally Posted: April 28, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6015858)
If the average MLB franchise is worth 2.2 billion, then half of them are worth less than that. If there was a market available that would support a franchise being worth 2.2 billion, I'd think we would have 15 teams lining up to move to that market.

The only market I'd be willing to pay 2.2 billion to enter would be as a third team in the NYC area, but we know MLB is not going to allow that.
   15. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 28, 2021 at 02:07 PM (#6015863)
...pointing to Montreal, Portland or Nashville as if they are guaranteed to be nearly twice as valuable as Miami is not wise either.


No doubt. What I'd like to know is if there are any lessons from the Rockies. By MSA ranking the Denver area is 19th (don't have the info, but I'm sure it ranked lower when the franchise started, just because that area of Colorado has seen a lot of growth in the last 15 years). But attendance-wise, the team has been a consistently strong draw in its time, typically top 10 in MLB. What's different there and are any of those factors applicable elsewhere?
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: April 28, 2021 at 02:21 PM (#6015866)
But attendance-wise, the team has been a consistently strong draw in its time, typically top 10 in MLB. What's different there and are any of those factors applicable elsewhere?


When the Rockies entered the league, team officials said they expected the club to have the same kind of wide reach the Broncos do, tapping much of the multi-state area as people who came in for entire weekend series. Obviously, there aren't a lot of people in the MST, but the Rockies are still the closest MLB team for a very large geographic range.
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 28, 2021 at 03:11 PM (#6015877)
Pointing to the Miami market size as if it's a harbinger is more of the same foolishness which put a franchise there in the first place.
I don’t think South Florida residents have some immutable characteristic that makes them immune to the factors that have made MLB teams popular elsewhere. There is little doubt the Huizenga & Loria ownership regimes made some decisions, widely panned here & elsewhere, that alienated much of the potential fan base. However, the Marlins now have an attractive stadium, and fielding a competitive team on a more consistent basis is likely to remedy much of the fan alienation. It’s worked elsewhere. If I had a spare billion, I’d much rather put it in a large-market team that’s in a down period than a small-market expansion team.
   18. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: April 28, 2021 at 05:22 PM (#6015917)
If only Miami had won a World Series. Or two.
   19. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 28, 2021 at 05:31 PM (#6015921)
I don’t think South Florida residents have some immutable characteristic that makes them immune to the factors that have made MLB teams popular elsewhere. There is little doubt the Huizenga & Loria ownership regimes made some decisions, widely panned here & elsewhere, that alienated much of the potential fan base. However, the Marlins now have an attractive stadium, and fielding a competitive team on a more consistent basis is likely to remedy much of the fan alienation. It’s worked elsewhere. If I had a spare billion, I’d much rather put it in a large-market team that’s in a down period than a small-market expansion team.


Everyone in South Florida is from somewhere else.
   20. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: April 28, 2021 at 05:32 PM (#6015922)
   21. Walt Davis Posted: April 28, 2021 at 06:12 PM (#6015932)
The answer is, you bet at least one or two of them will. Maybe Mark (Facebook) Z likes baseball. It's a pittance. Maybe Bezos wants a team. For about 3 months of his interest income he could pay for a team.

Sure but then why wouldn't they buy the Twins or Rox and why weren't they bidding on the Mets? The Twins' owners may not want to sell but if you offered them $1.8 B for their $1.3 B asset, I'm pretty sure they'd say yes ... and you'd save yourself $400 M relative to the $2.2 B expansion fee.

What I'd like to know is if there are any lessons from the Rockies.

The Rox are a relative expansion success, had some huge attendance years, seem to have a loyal fan base. Forbes puts them 21st with a value of $1.3 B. That's my point, you do things right and after 20 years you might have a franchise worth $1.3 B in today's dollars.

Mewanwhile ... cash flow isn't a problem in MLB. Under the current system, every teams gets $210 M plus half their local revenues. That's a lot of cash flow, it's what the Marlins' business model is based on.

   22. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 28, 2021 at 06:14 PM (#6015933)
When the Rockies entered the league, team officials said they expected the club to have the same kind of wide reach the Broncos do, tapping much of the multi-state area as people who came in for entire weekend series.


I'll put aside that team-based projections are not trustworthy—i.e., anybody buying the Braves' economic forecasts for the new stadium? The Rockies may benefit from being the sole team in the time zone—for perspective, that time zone is basically the same in population as the metro NY City area—but the gain would likely be on television more than attendance. Most tourists to Colorado, nearly all of whom fly into Denver, are from outside the time zone.

For many in the west (and Mountain Time Zone), the Denver area is not a place to go. Sorry for going here, but for many it's sort of political: most in Idaho or Wyoming or Utah or New Mexico or Arizona see the Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins area as an awful, liberal place. On top of that, even if you're in the time zone, Denver is likely a flight away, not a drive. Heck, I have friends who live in Colorado and Denver is a 7-hour drive for them.
   23. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 28, 2021 at 06:30 PM (#6015934)
Everyone in South Florida is from somewhere else.
That’s largely true of the Washington, DC metro area, too, and the Nationals are doing OK.
   24. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 28, 2021 at 06:58 PM (#6015938)
What I'd like to know is if there are any lessons from the Rockies.


The Rox are a relative expansion success, had some huge attendance years, seem to have a loyal fan base. Forbes puts them 21st with a value of $1.3 B. That's my point, you do things right and after 20 years you might have a franchise worth $1.3 B in today's dollars.


Walt, you haven't attributed the Rockies' expansion success to anything.

All-time winning percentage:

Marlins: .463
Rockies: .470

Across the decades that's about one game better per year for the Rockies. So it's not regular-season performance.

Both teams have had a few playoff runs.

The Rockies have certainly had more stars the fans were loyal to, like Helton or Tulo. But when a team is in a multi-year stretch of bad play I don't know how much that helps. Not like New Yorkers were flocking to Yankee Stadium in '91 to see Mattingly.

The Marlins have had the teardowns. Those had to hurt, but it's hard to know how much. I mean, a little different, but Baltimore hasn't done anything in quite a while to make fans happy and that team has comparatively much better attendance.

Colorado definitely has better weather. Are there more of the right corporate supporters there (whatever "right" means)?

All told, both teams have been comparably bad and

Marlins: Couple of championships, couple of teardowns, oppressive weather, and awful attendance.

Rockies: Couple of playoff runs, a few longtime stars, great weather, and strong attendance.

That doesn't seem like enough to explain the attendance differences and market success/failure between the teams.
   25. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: April 28, 2021 at 07:30 PM (#6015943)
Colorado has had a great stadium in a great location for nearly their entire run. The Marlins have only recently upgraded to an ok stadium in an ok location.
   26. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: April 28, 2021 at 07:33 PM (#6015944)
Everyone in South Florida is from somewhere else.

Marlins: Couple of championships, couple of teardowns, oppressive weather, and awful attendance.

The thing about south Florida is that if you live there, then you must have moved there, and presumably the weather was a drawing card.
   27. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 28, 2021 at 07:48 PM (#6015945)
The other major Miami teams don’t have a problem drawing fans, do they? Heat, Dolphins, Panthers? The “everyone’s a transplant” rationale never made that much sense to me, especially because it’s not really true.
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 28, 2021 at 11:09 PM (#6016058)
The Dolphins and Jaguars are usually in the bottom half of home attendance. So is Tampa Bay, but they might be picking up next year.

And of course the Marlins and the Rays attendance is a joke.

No idea about the Heat or the Panthers.
   29. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 29, 2021 at 12:28 AM (#6016062)
Colorado has had a great stadium in a great location for nearly their entire run. The Marlins have only recently upgraded to an ok stadium in an ok location.


Good point. Coors Field coincided with/contributed to the revitalization of that part of downtown Denver. I presume that's part of why their new-stadium attendance was sort of odd. That is, after two years at Mile High, they got an attendance bump moving to a new stadium (1995). Yet the next four seasons saw even higher attendance at the new stadium, with three of those seasons being 4–500K more fans.

The thing about south Florida is that if you live there, then you must have moved there, and presumably the weather was a drawing card.


Mostly yes and maybe a little no. I don't know how much retiree population is there (aka, people from the Northeast), but I'd bet for some of those people the draw isn't so much heat and humidity as it is the lack of winter. So I don't know how much those people would have gone to a game prior to the domed stadium. But maybe they're not much of the potential fan base anyway.

Everyone in South Florida is from somewhere else.

That’s largely true of the Washington, DC metro area, too, and the Nationals are doing OK.


Denver's population has gone from 1.7M in '95 to 2.8M today and that's largely transplants.
   30. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 29, 2021 at 12:59 AM (#6016066)
The Dolphins and Jaguars are usually in the bottom half of home attendance.
In 2019, the last ‘normal’ year, the Dolphins attendance was 97.4% of capacity, 14th of 32 NFL teams. The Jaguars were at 93% of capacity, 25th in the league, but hardly an indication that Floridians are singularly uninterested in professional sports.
   31. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 29, 2021 at 07:53 AM (#6016070)

Yes, and the Dolphins and Jags were both last place teams in 2019. Miami hasn’t won a playoff game in like 20 years.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: April 29, 2021 at 08:47 AM (#6016074)
The Marlins were fifth in NL attendance their first two years, started to slip as they remained at the bottom of the standings, then bounced back up to fifth their surprise World Series year. There's no reason to think Miami would have been incapable of supporting the club, but the immediate teardown that followed the 1997 title, and the repeated scorched earth tactics since then have obviously soured the market on the team. Whether the base can be rebuilt remains to be seen, but it's not as if the city has always rejected the club.
   33. sanny manguillen Posted: April 29, 2021 at 08:56 AM (#6016078)
Dr. Bob Hartley: "Emily, I wouldn't have minded if you had spent $2.2 billion on the Burj Khalifa, because a $50 million skyscraper is no good. But a $50 million ball team works just fine, and with the money we saved we could have bought...the Burj Khalifa."
   34. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 29, 2021 at 03:00 PM (#6016148)
The Marlins were fifth in NL attendance their first two years, started to slip as they remained at the bottom of the standings, then bounced back up to fifth their surprise World Series year.


Another factor that hurts the Marlins' attendance rankings is that the stadium-building boom began after the team came into the league. I think the only NL teams that didn't get a new stadium were the Dodgers and Cubs.
   35. Buck Coats Posted: April 29, 2021 at 06:40 PM (#6016218)
yeah but if that were so helpful the Marlins would also be a beneficiary
   36. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 29, 2021 at 07:53 PM (#6016223)
To a degree they have benefited. The first year of their current stadium brought a 50% increase in attendance over the prior season and 6 of their 14 best attendance seasons have been in this stadium (note that the current stadium's capacity could sell out for a year and attendance wouldn't exceed their inaugural season, so that year is out of reach).
   37. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 29, 2021 at 08:26 PM (#6016224)

Marlins finished in last place the year before they moved into the new stadium, the year they moved in, and the following year. Not the best timing.
   38. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: April 29, 2021 at 11:35 PM (#6016235)
Yeah, but I got to see Ichiro when I visited their new stadium. And I got to see the fish sculpture that Jeter tore down.
   39. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:05 AM (#6016242)
There’s no denying Marlins owners have hurt attendance. But I think there’s also something about baseball in that market. Well, probably numerous things. Not that I feel qualified to confidently identify those market qualities. But here are some comparisons to illustrate the idea there may be something about the market:

In Baltimore, a year after posting a .290 winning percentage and finishing 61 games back in 2018, the next year they had a .333 winning percentage and drew 1.3M fans. Miami has had 7 seasons with lower attendance.

Detroit followed back-to-back seasons with a .395 winning percentage by dropping down to .292 in 2019. Result: 1.5M fans. Miami has had 11 seasons with lower attendance.

Houston, in their third (and worst) year of an admitted tanking strategy had a .315 winning percentage in 2013. Attendance: 1.65M. Miami has had 15 seasons with lower attendance. Or, if you prefer, only 12 seasons drawing more.

The 2002 Brewers completed their 10th straight year under .500 and ended up 41 games out. They drew 1.96M. The Marlins have topped that three times.

The 2012 Royals had their 9th straight year under .500. 1.7M showed up.

For all the stadium awfulness out in Oakland and the persistent roster turnover—which have been regular complaints about the Marlins—the team’s lowest attendance this century is 1.4M. Ten times the Marlins have been below that.

Since 1992 the Pirates have had four years over .500. The lowest attendance this century: 1.46M.

The Rockies joined MLB at the same time as the Marlins. The team’s worst attendance (1.9M, also their only time under 2M) would be the Marlins 5th best.

Lots of people here and elsewhere disagree with how the Indians have run things, trading/letting go of many big-name players when the salaries are about to jump a lot—forget Lindor and just remember Sabathia; this has been gong on for a while. Since the Marlins came aboard in '93, the Indians have only twice had attendance below 1.5M. The Marlins averaged 1.57M per year in their pre-2020 history.

So I’ll say it again: Marlins ownership has been damaging, but plenty of teams have had lots of bad management (if not as publicly so) with nowhere near the same attendance consequences.
   40. DL from MN Posted: April 30, 2021 at 08:01 AM (#6016248)
Miami has a poor long-term outlook, mainly because it's projected to be underwater by 2050.

https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-miami-keeps-building-rising-seas-deepen-its-social-divide



   41. SoSH U at work Posted: April 30, 2021 at 08:24 AM (#6016251)
But here are some comparisons to illustrate the idea there may be something about the market:


No team has ever done what Florida did. They won the title in 1997, and the club's owner petulantly tore everything down by midseason the following year. Then they did it again (though not quite as quickly the second time).

I'm sure there are some structural issues that make Miami and Tampa weaker markets than their sheer MSA sizes would suggest. But they also have some unique characteristics, with no club gutting itself as cynically and as often as Miami has done (we christened the ballpark the Fish Tank for a reason), and no team playing in as abysmal a ballpark as Suncoast Dome.
   42. Lassus Posted: April 30, 2021 at 08:36 AM (#6016253)
The other major Miami teams don’t have a problem drawing fans, do they? Heat, Dolphins, Panthers? The “everyone’s a transplant” rationale never made that much sense to me, especially because it’s not really true.

Just throwing shit against the wall, was the long, long history of minor-league ball in FL a thing, psychologically, for people not giving a crap about MAJOR-league ball?


by 2050.

This had a great one-two punch of causing me think "Hey, that's not so far away" (geologically), followed immediately by "Jesus, I'll be 80". So, thanks for nothing.
   43. Ron J Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:53 PM (#6016312)
#41 I think this gets to the whole perception issue. Sure they had success, but the subsequent tear downs conveyed to any potential fans that long term success is not important.

"Don't get attached. If a player is any good he'll be gone" is a terrible marketing slogan. But is a reasonable description the overall model the Marlins have operated under. Doesn't matter that they have often received good value in their various fire sales.
   44. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 30, 2021 at 05:58 PM (#6016377)
No team has ever done what Florida did. They won the title in 1997, and the club's owner petulantly tore everything down by midseason the following year. Then they did it again (though not quite as quickly the second time).

I'm sure there are some structural issues that make Miami and Tampa weaker markets than their sheer MSA sizes would suggest. But they also have some unique characteristics, with no club gutting itself as cynically and as often as Miami has done (we christened the ballpark the Fish Tank for a reason), and no team playing in as abysmal a ballpark as Suncoast Dome.


Emphasis added. So what are the structural issues? We know the team has often been bad, not played in a nice stadium, and had some awful ownership behavior. Here's a related example to the list I gave above:

2012 was the 20th straight season the Pirates were under .500. The team drew nearly 2.1M fans. Are you saying the attendance difference between the Pirates and the Marlins is basically Pittsburgh has a better stadium and owners who weren't as egregiously awful, and that explains why the 2018 and 2019 Marlins barely drew 800K? I don't buy that stadium and bad ownership make that much of a difference in turnout. How much of that PIT vs. FLA difference is stadium/ownership vs. structural issues? That's what I'm trying to get a handle on, suspecting that there may be more issues with the market or Florida than people suggest. (Slightly different market, of course, but I think it says something that Tampa is looking for options outside the state—it's actually been a while since we've legitimately heard that from a team not just threatening a city.)
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: April 30, 2021 at 06:10 PM (#6016381)
The team drew nearly 2.1M fans. Are you saying the attendance difference between the Pirates and the Marlins is basically Pittsburgh has a better stadium and owners who weren't as egregiously awful, and that explains why the 2018 and 2019 Marlins barely drew 800K?


I'm saying that's definitely part of it, while acknowledging there may be problems with both Florida markets that make them weaker than their MSA size would suggest. But I don't think you can discount what the 1998 fire sale did. They drew fine over their first five years (ranking fifth, fifth, eighth, 10th and fifth). Since the immediate sale in 1998 (and reinforced by subsequent strip-mining efforts in 2005-06, 2013 and again in 2018 when Jetes and crew took over), the community doesn't seem to want to get invested in the club.
   46. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 30, 2021 at 06:16 PM (#6016384)
...there may be problems with both Florida markets that make them weaker than their MSA size would suggest. But I don't think you can discount what the 1998 fire sale did. They drew fine over their first five years (ranking fifth, fifth, eighth, 10th and fifth


What do you think these problems are? What are or may be the structural issues with MLB in the state. That's all I want to identify/theorize. We all know Marlins ownership has done damage, none of us needs to rehash that. (not insisting it's you who responds, SoSH, just asking from anyone)
   47. Tony S Posted: April 30, 2021 at 07:24 PM (#6016400)
What do you think these problems are? What are or may be the structural issues with MLB in the state. That's all I want to identify/theorize. We all know Marlins ownership has done damage, none of us needs to rehash that. (not insisting it's you who responds, SoSH, just asking from anyone)


As SoSH pointed out, the Marlins have gutted their team after brief short-term successes several times, under various different ownerships. Huzienga, Loria, the current regime. When three straight girlfriends cheat on you, you can be excused for throwing up your hands and giving up on dating. The Miami fan base might be beyond reclamation at this point. But it wasn't inevitable -- their attendance patterns in the early years were perfectly normal.

Miami has some geographical limitations -- tucked in the corner of the country, effectively surrounded by water and swampland on three sides. It's never going to be a long-distance draw the way midwestern teams are. That's probably a factor. But if the Seattle Mariners can thrive with similar issues (and the Padres do OK), there's no built-in reason Miami can't either. I think it just mainly goes back to one crappy ownership group after another.

Tampa is a different story. The team has been competitive for the most part in a tough division, and the ownership is committed to putting a good product on the field. But their stadium sucks AND it's in a dreadful location. It's a combination of liabilities that depresses attendance. But it's a large metropolis, much more centrally located than Miami -- if they can get a good ballpark in downtown Tampa, they'd probably draw much better. But given that the ownership there DOES care about winning, and the attendance still is what it is, one can forgive them if they'd rather not gamble on staying in town.
   48. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 30, 2021 at 07:47 PM (#6016404)
   49. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 30, 2021 at 07:54 PM (#6016405)
Miami has some geographical limitations -- tucked in the corner of the country, effectively surrounded by water and swampland on three sides. It's never going to be a long-distance draw the way midwestern teams are.


For different reasons the Pirates are in a similar, blocked-off position. Go west and it's Indians territory, farther west brings the Reds or Tigers, go a little east and there aren't people, farther east and it's Phillies country, north and northwest aren't many people (not to mention Triple A alternatives).

...if they can get a good ballpark in downtown Tampa, they'd probably draw much better.


I've heard often the current location is problematic, but didn't know enough to know if a better spot would work. (As for the current stadium, I just like to note that's also an HOK design, the same people who were lauded for many of the new stadia, like Camden Yards.)

More than anything, Pittsburgh and Colorado give me concerns about Miami as a market. All three teams have had comparably awful regular-season performance over the same span and ownership groups that turn people off. Agreed, Miami owners have been the most repulsive, but I get the sense there's something geographic or demographic also contributing to why that team's attendance is so far below the Rockies or Pirates considering how much larger the Miami population is compared to those other two markets (combined, the Denver and Pittsburgh markets about a million fewer people than the Miami market).
   50. Ron J Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:10 PM (#6016420)
#49 Been a while since I've done the work (and when I did it I focused on revenue as it's easier to model than attendance) but I didn't find the Marlins an outlier in terms of revenue. One key point is that fire sales are almost always very bad in terms of revenue (and presumably attendance) because the fan base will always parse this as "not trying to compete".

Of note: Perception of team quality is about twice as important as actual team quality and opening day payroll (something the Marlins have been cheaping out on for a long time) is an important factor in the perception. That and constantly turning the roster over (I never did figure out how to quantify this but found some evidence to back up the notion that fans like and reward stability) hurt them a lot.
   51. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:30 PM (#6016422)
If I were an owner and my goal was to get the local market to loathe the franchise then I would do most of the things the Marlins have done since 1997. I think it is possible that things can be salvaged there, but there needs to be like a 10 year run of exemplary ownership to rebuild some trust with the community. Jeter squandered his honeymoon period by running the standard Marlins fire sale playbook.
   52. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:34 PM (#6016423)
The Dolphins and Jaguars are usually in the bottom half of home attendance.

In 2019, the last ‘normal’ year, the Dolphins attendance was 97.4% of capacity, 14th of 32 NFL teams. The Jaguars were at 93% of capacity, 25th in the league, but hardly an indication that Floridians are singularly uninterested in professional sports.

In the 10 years before that, the Dolphins' average attendance was 21st in the NFL. That sure seems like "bottom half" to me.

Not that you can really blame Miami fans, as the Dolphins have yet to win a 21st century postseason game. Their glory years came and went in the early Shula era.
   53. Ron J Posted: April 30, 2021 at 10:12 PM (#6016429)
#51 From what I can tell it's very hard to build up a fan base and exceedingly easy to bring it down.
   54. Tony S Posted: April 30, 2021 at 10:26 PM (#6016433)
#51 From what I can tell it's very hard to build up a fan base and exceedingly easy to bring it down.


Case in point: The Expos. Slow start, but finally great attendance during the Carter-Raines-Dawson years. They outdrew the world champion Cardinals in 1982. And again in 1983, when the Cards got their post-title bounce.

When the team stopped trying, the fans stopped coming.
   55. DL from MN Posted: April 30, 2021 at 10:31 PM (#6016436)
there's something geographic or demographic also contributing


The Yale article I posted said Miami has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth of any major city.
   56. Ron J Posted: May 01, 2021 at 12:26 AM (#6016444)
#55 That's something I didn't test for. Per Capita income is significant in explaining team revenue. And Neilsen DMA (plus the DMA of other markets strongly loyal to the team) predicts revenue better than MSA (David Jones came up with a solid methodology two decades ago. You'd want to redo his study because there have been some pretty big changes)

And Miami falls between Minneapolis and Denver in DMA. One key to Denver's success is that they market themselves (successfully) as a regional team and draw from more than just Denver.
   57. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 01, 2021 at 01:31 AM (#6016448)
2012 was the 20th straight season the Pirates were under .500. The team drew nearly 2.1M fans. Are you saying the attendance difference between the Pirates and the Marlins is basically Pittsburgh has a better stadium and owners who weren't as egregiously awful, and that explains why the 2018 and 2019 Marlins barely drew 800K?
The big difference is that the Pirates had been around for more than 100 years when they went on their recent two-decade skid. They had generations of fans attached to the team. It’s not like they had to win back fans still alienated because they traded Honus Wagner after the 1901 season. In contrast, the Marlins were a 1993 expansion team that surprised many by making the 1997 playoffs as the wildcard and then winning the World Series. Rather than build on that success, Huizenga flushed away whatever goodwill his fledgling franchise had by immediately dismantling the team because he hadn’t already made enough money for his liking. That really poisoned the well, and then Loria made it worse. The Marlins off-putting decisions were also widely seen as deliberate, not just the normal ineptitude that accompanies a losing franchise. The jury is still out on the new ownership, but well-financed ownership with a long-term focus certainly has a chance of turning things around.
   58. bookbook Posted: May 01, 2021 at 11:59 AM (#6016461)
#8, I think you’re undercounting the value of the write off team owners get to take on the team purchase. They save a lot on the taxes from their other profitable ventures during the first 5 years.
   59. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: May 03, 2021 at 12:58 AM (#6016607)
Ron J Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:10 PM (#6016420)#49 Been a while since I've done the work (and when I did it I focused on revenue as it's easier to model than attendance) but I didn't find the Marlins an outlier in terms of revenue. One key point is that fire sales are almost always very bad in terms of revenue (and presumably attendance) because the fan base will always parse this as "not trying to compete".


Just wondering: Why then would the Astros have done so well attendance-wise during their blatant tanking period? Or, compared to the Marlins, why do the Orioles continue to handily outdraw them? Still, I’m trying to determine if we can parse market-based issues with south Florida.

Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: April 30, 2021 at 09:30 PM (#6016422)

Jeter squandered his honeymoon period by running the standard Marlins fire sale playbook.

Perhaps, but if they were gong to do something like that it's probably better if done at the outset instead of a couple years in.

DL from MN Posted: April 30, 2021 at 10:31 PM (#6016436)

The Yale article I posted said Miami has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth of any major city.

Sorry, DL. I hadn’t followed your link as I assumed it was all about your comment regarding sea-level rise. Thank you for pointing out the unequal wealth distribution. That’s definitely a noteworthy market issue.

Ron J Posted: May 01, 2021 at 12:26 AM (#6016444)

#55 That's something I didn't test for. Per Capita income is significant in explaining team revenue. And Neilsen DMA (plus the DMA of other markets strongly loyal to the team) predicts revenue better than MSA …

Okay. But revenue is not the same as attendance. Of course we all know some cities can charge much more for tickets than other cities.
   60. Ron J Posted: May 03, 2021 at 07:55 AM (#6016619)
#59 Sure. That's why I'm always careful to specify that I was looking at revenue.

And revenue has its issues since sometimes the team is owned by the entity that pays for the broadcast rights and they game this one way or the other.

Still, easier to model revenue than attendance. (Or to be more precise, the models test out much better. Back in the day nobody could make a model that explained more than 60% of the variation in team attendance. Revenue models were in the high 80% range)
   61. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 03, 2021 at 09:21 AM (#6016630)
Just wondering: Why then would the Astros have done so well attendance-wise during their blatant tanking period? Or, compared to the Marlins, why do the Orioles continue to handily outdraw them?

They didn’t, at least not in Houston’s case. Houston barely outdrew the Marlins during their tanking years of 2012-2014 (actually, Miami outdrew them in 2012 but that was the year of their new stadium). They were both last place teams.

I do think that there is something singularly bad about tearing down a relatively new franchise that just won the World Series. I hate the idea of tanking, don’t get me wrong, but tanking when you have 50 years of history and are coming off of a couple sub-.500 seasons, like Houston did, is a bit different, and evidently something that a team can recover from.

Miami has had poor attendance pretty much ever since the 1998 fire sale, but it hasn’t really been until the past few seasons that they’ve been dead last by a mile in attendance. And that’s clearly a result of the 2018 fire sale where they traded away Stanton, who had just won the MVP, as well as Ozuna and Yelich, who subsequently won the MVP.

I don’t follow the Orioles close enough to comment there. I always thought they were at least kind of trying but just poorly managed.

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