Aug
07

Thinking Out Loud: A third team in the New York area

By

When it comes to the economics of baseball, conversations tend to begin and end in New York. The Yankees — and, to a lesser extent, the Mets — hold the blue-chip market captive and command hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each year. While teams such as the Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers and Cubs can attempt to compete, the potential will always be greater in New York.

To that end, the Yankees have always been Public Enemy No. 1 and everyone’s best friend. They are frowned upon for spending exorbitant sums of money on free agents, but through baseball’s current revenue sharing system, they are funding many of their top competitors year after year. It’s a double-edged sword, and while lately, Bud Selig and the owners have kept the anti-Yankee rhetoric to a minimum, nothing would please the powers-that-be more than a decrease in the power of the Yankees.

To that end, then, the recent news that the new Yankee Stadium would push the Bombers’ revenue streams to stratospheric heights probably isn’t welcome news around the Commissioner’s Office. The rich are getting richer, and while the poor will piggy-back their way to more money, the name of the game these days is equality.

Enter Maury Brown. In a recent piece, Brown brings up the dreaded E word. That’s right; it’s time to talk expansion. As Brown notes, the only major baseball move since 1998 when the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks started play was the relocation of the Expos to Washington, D.C. This is the second longest stretch of stability in baseball since the Marlins and Rockies broke a 16-year hiatus on expansion.

As the other major sports leagues have all expanded more recently than baseball and with attendance booming, might the big wigs be itching to extend their reach? Perhaps so, but with an unstable U.S. economy and Mark Cuban nearly ready to close on the Cubs, baseball may not have the luxury to expand any time soon. But Brown ponders the available markets, and his number one destination is something of a tease to those of us living in the New York Metropolitan Area.

Brown recommends Northern New Jersey as the number one destination without a team that could support one. Drawing on the estimated 21 million people who live in the megalopolis that stretches from Philadelphia to the New York suburbs, this vast media market could easily support another team. There are, of course, the typical catches: The Yankees, Mets and Phillies would have to be compensated a prohibitive amount to waive their territorial rights over New Jersey. There is no stadium that could adequately house a Major League team. Transit options to any potential stadium site are dicey at best.

But I have to wonder if this is a path Major League Baseball could pursue in an effort to decrease the financial clout of the Yankees. A third team in the New York media market would draw fans and TV viewers away from the Yankees. While the Yanks would continue to profit at obscenely high margins, they would have to do so knowing that the local competition won’t roll over and die or play in another league, as the case may be with the Mets.

Brooklynites — I among them — yearn for the arrival of a Major League team in our borough. The day the Dodgers left is still a bitter one for fans from that generation. But what if the key to baseball’s economic inequalities lies not within the five boroughs but across the Hudson River in New Jersey? It won’t happen any time soon, but it’s a very distinct possibility.

Categories : Rants
  • r.w.g.

    I live in New Jersey and I think expanding would not be a great idea.

    Everybody here who is a baseball fan has their team. A lot of people who live in Jersey, their parents are from New York or Pennsylvania or some other place.. they were raised as fans of that team.

    Theoretically I guess there are numbers to support a team, but I think it would turn out like the Nets.

    Driving and parking suck in New Jersey and with the way the trains are set up, unless this hypothetical new stadium came with a brand new rail stop, you’re going to run into the same problems the Nets and Devils faced. Although the Devils new stadium in Newark is nice and is pretty accessible through public transport especially if you live in Newark.

    • Ed

      Considering how many people from Jersey drive to Yankee and Met games, I don’t think it would be an issue for fans to drive to a stadium in Jersey. The drive on its worst days would still be a billion times better than the drive to Yankee Stadium or Shea on its best days.

      But your first point was right, I don’t think there are many people who would follow the team. Everyone is already a Yankee or Met fan, and there’s several minor league / independent league teams in the area for people who want a cheaper option.

      I think this new team would sell out when the Yankees or Mets came to play, but otherwise wouldn’t get noticed much.

      • r.w.g.

        Yeah a lot of people definitely do drive up from Jersey, but I would wonder how many of those people are going to more than a handful of games a season. I guess though if you have a lot of people that go to a handful of games, it all evens out.

        I would also probably note.. and this isn’t scientific but purely anecdotal.. the people I know who regularly drive in for NYY/NYM games have stronger ties to the area. Like I said before.. they used to live in NY and then moved to Jersey or their parents are from there, etc, so it’s kind of a routine family/friends type trip into the city.

        I really do not think a pro baseball stadium in Jersey hosting a new team would get significant commuter traffic. Those people drive to NYC because they have been fans for years, decades even.

  • The Fallen Phoenix

    Though I know it’s been shot down by people who have brought it up recently (I’m thinking specifically of Nate Silver’s piece over a year ago at BP), but I think Portland’s a sensible choice for expansion. And I know it might not be the most popular idea, but there are certainly metropolitan areas outside of Montréal up in Canada that could probably support baseball franchises, too (I’m thinking specifically of Vancouver, if the interest is there).

    It would make sense from a competitive standpoint, if the East/Central/West divisions were to be preserved, that the next two expansions occur in the West, so as to bring the AL West up to 5 competitors, and perhaps move Texas into the AL Central (which would make more sense).

    If you add a third team to the New York/New Jersey market, you’d have to get really creative with re-alignment to make divisional play more fairly competitive.

    Of course it’s all moot since each of the major media markets, at least in the U.S., seem saturated, and thus expansion doesn’t make profitable sense for the game right now.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I’d prefer relocation instead of expansion. There’s not enough ML talent to field 30 teams as it is. Maybe move the Marlins?

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      Marlins are getting a new stadium in Miami, though. Allegedly, at least.

      I don’t think the talent distribution is really an issue, though, since there is still plenty of untapped major-league potential talent in Asia, which you figure will increase through the next decade or so.

      With the inclusion of more non-American (more specifically, non-Western Hemisphere) talent in the game, I’m sure fielding too additional teams wouldn’t be too much of a problem for MLB. Again, if we’re talking expansion in roughly a decade into the future, minimum, which would seemingly make the most sense financially.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Marlins are not going to get a stadium where they want.
        They should leave while the getting is good.

    • Adam

      i was just about you post the same thing Mike. there are far too many teams with no fans and little independent income (which causes which i don’t know). florida, pittsburgh, kansas city, oakland, tampa bay, texas, baltimore, and cincinatti all average less than half the attendance that the yankees do.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    The thing about expansion is that you have bring two teams in the league, otherwise someone will be off, or have to play a split squad game, every day. Since there’s 16 teams in the NL and only 14 in the AL, the expansions clubs would likely join the AL (barring some sort of realignment).

    I’ll admit that it would be exciting to see a new expansion club, but more teams means more parity, and more parity means more mediocrity. MLB was hoping to even out the playing field, and when it did it was left with a bunch of 80-84 win teams. Yawn.

  • http://salarydump.wordpress.com Joltin’ Joe

    The A’s will probably end up in Vegas before too long, Marlins seem to want to stay. Don’t really know of another team that doesn’t have a newer stadium and sucks. (TB… nah)

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Nah, the A’s are moving to the “Ballpark of the Future” in Freemont in 2 years.

  • Geno

    I think Queens, Brooklyn or even Staten Island could host a big league team. The city could easily support another team.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

      The Mets might need to relocate from Queens, their bullpen just blew another lead in the ninth.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Yeah but they still won.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          Manny homered. Again.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

            Because he is the shit.

  • pat

    Whenever i play madden in franchise mode and want to relocate my team mexico city always has 99% interest. Through that scientific reasoning alone i propose a mlb club there imediamente

    • jsbrendog

      genius

  • John

    Put a team in Southern Jersey and set up a rivalry with Philly. The Blue Clwas get a very big turn out.

  • Chris G.

    I remember the Yanks making idle threats to move to Bayonne when they were in negotiations for the new stadium, and North Jersey certainly has enough cash to support an MLB team. That said, you would definitely have to move a team there in-division because the AL and NL East both have five teams already. You could move the Astros, since they are the only team in the over-sized NL central that isn’t “storied” but Texas is a huge market. I definitely don’t think the Washington Nationals have failed just yet (but their close unless they get a good owner GM soon) and I don’t think the MLB wants to give up Toronto, which is the best AL candidate for a move in my mind, since the Rays all of a sudden are too good to just up and move. Frankly, I think it would be interesting, since I live in the shadow of the Meadowlands and the new team would most likely end up within ten miles of my house, but I just don’t know how you would work it.

  • http://Anotherlefty Peedlum

    How about Puerto Rico. Didn’t the Expos play there?

    • jsbrendog

      wow. i forgot about that. they did haha

  • vinny-b

    new york state, is the baseball capital of the world.

    while western/central new york, does have an NFL team. They have no baseball team. Have to believe, the vicinities of Buffalo/Rochester and also syracuse, would be able to support a team. No, they’re not large cities. However, this is a baseball state, with many people living ‘in between’ in western/central ny.

  • Baseballnation

    I’m against expansion. If were talking relocation then I think the Blue Jays are the obvious choice for an A.L. team. A move to New Jersey might be in there best interest as it’s probably the nearest to it’s fan base then any other proposal that might arise. Then again maybe I’m biase wanting them so close to home seeing as I played for the little league Blue Jays in my youth. :)

    • http://www.blognameremoved.com Todd

      “Brooklyn Blue Jays” has a nice ring to it.

  • Baseballnation

    “new york state, is the baseball capital of the world.”

    …California has 5 teams

    • radnom

      Cooperstown.

    • vinny-b

      and their fans arrive at the stadium in the 3rd inning. And leave in the 7th.

      what’s your point?

  • Evan V

    There is a big love/market in North Carolina for baseball. Just think Bull Durham. Between Durham, Raleigh and Charlotte, they could probably use more than just the Carolina league, eh?

  • Mark B

    Baseball needs contraction, not expansion. Unless the Marlins or the Athletic get their stadiums in a timely manner (I read where the new Athletics Stadium is being held up by lawsuits from environmentalists and won’t be ready until 2011 or 2012 at the earliest), they should both be cut loose. You can’t have both of these teams consistently draw below-average attendance, not to mention a payroll that is well below what should be a required minimum in the game.

  • Efrem Goldman

    Didn’t Waswatching just write about this topic yesterday/

  • Davi

    I don’t think the tax payers would enjoy this, considering they would most likely foot the bill. (even if it only raises people’s taxes by a penny, politicians and dumb tax payers will flip out and whine) Unless they put the team in giants stadium ala dolphins/marlins.