Kamis, 09 Februari 2012

MLB Teams on the Move

The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays have been two teams on very small budgets recently due to their poor stadium situations. Both teams also have not had the best support from their cities as attendance has been disappointing with Tampa Bay and Oakland having the worst attendance in the Majors with Oakland being the worst and Tampa Bay being just a head of them in second to last. Both teams have had extremely disappointing attendance which has prompted rumors about these teams being on the move.
The Oakland Athletics had the worst attendance in the Majors last year as they averaged 18,232 which was only 52 percent of the stadium being full. The Athletics have been cash-strapped because of the lack of attendance as owner Lew Wolff has been looking to move out of the old O.co Coliseum. The A's are targeting a move to San Jose soon as Bud Selig is trying to work to help get this deal done to move the team to San Jose. I definitely think it is time to move the Athletics out of Oakland as the city seems to be having more problems every day. The biggest question is: Will San Jose be able to support the team or should Oakland make a move to somewhere else like Portland or Sacramento? San Jose is the tenth biggest city in the United States with an estimated population of 945,942 people as the city has grown at a rate of 14.4% since 1990. San Jose has the potential to sell tons of luxury boxes due to the city's location in the heart of Silicon Valley. San Jose has also shown their support for major sports teams as the NHL's San Jose Sharks are averaging sellouts for every home game for the fourth straight season despite the fact that San Jose is not in a major hockey area due to the warm weather of California. Baseball should be more popular in San Jose as some of the best high schools for baseball are in California including the San Jose area. San Jose would allow MLB to not worry about realigning divisions as that could cause some major divisional shifts. Moving to San Jose would also keep potential home rainouts down to the tons of sunshine that Silicon Valley receives. San Jose also has minor league baseball with the California League Single A San Jose Giants who have had attendance surge recently in their small stadium. All these characteristics make San Jose an ideal location for a Major League team but their is one reason that makes a move to San Jose for the Athletics necessary.The city of San Jose wants to bring the Athletics to their town as San Jose is already working very hard to get all the things that are needed for MLB to allow the Athletics to leave Oakland for San Jose. San Jose has shown that they want to have a team and this is a sign that they will also show up for games. This move should and will happen as the Athletics owner Lew Wolff and the city of San Jose want to get this done.

The Tampa Bay Rays are a more interesting situation as they are stuck currently in the Tampa suburb of St. Petersburg. This has made getting to Tropicana Field harder but attendance has still been disappointing as they were second to last in the majors with an average of 18,878 despite the fact that the Rays made the playoffs. The Rays have wanted to move to downtown Tampa and build a stadium there but the owners of Tropicana Field will not allow the Rays to leave if it is only a move to downtown Tampa which means the team might have to relocate which could be a good thing. Tampa Bay has not proven that it can do a good job with supporting professional sports teams as the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they only average 86.4% percent with crowds of around 56,614. I do not believe that the city of Tampa could support the Rays even if they built a stadium in downtown Tampa. This creates another question on where should the Rays move as there are multiple options. However, any relocation candidate would have to be on or near the east coast so this eliminates LLas Vegas, San Antonio, and Portland. This leaves four viable candidates to where the Rays organiztion could move to: Charlotte, Indianapolis, Norfolk-Virginia Beach, and Richmond. The best candidate to be the relocation city for the Rays is Charlotte, North Carolina. The metropolitan Charlotte area is one of the fastes growing areas in the country as it has grown 32% from 2000 to 2010. This has brought the population of Charlotte and the surrounding area to 1.75 million people as this trend should continue over the coming years. Lots of the brightest people in the country are moving to Charlotte as that means that there will be people to buy luxury boxes and young adults who would support a team with tons of passion. The Charlotte area has proven they can support major sports teams no matter how successful they are as the NFL's Charlotte-based Carolina Panthers are seventh in the NFL in attendance with 72,292 people per game despite their recent streak of losing seasons. Charlotte also has another struggling professional team in the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats but they are still in the top half of the NBA in attendance with 16,981 people per game. This proves that the city of Charlotte can support a team no matter how well the team performs. This would also give the Rays organization more money to spend due to the high probability that attendance would be much better in Charlotte than currently in Tampa. The Triple-A Charlotte Knights have had decent attendance recently as professional baseball should succeed in Charlotte since they have shown that they truely support professional teams. So, is there any other cities that could compete with Charlotte? Indianapolis is another city that has been growing a lot in the last decade as the Indianapolis metro area has grown 15% to a population of at least 1.52 million people. Indianapolis showed that they have all the necessary capabilities to host major events as huge as this year's Super Bowl was a great example of that. Indianapolis has proven to be a good town for the NFL as the Indianapolis Colts still averaged sellouts despite the fact that the Colts only won two games this season. Indianapolis also lives in one of the most popular areas for baseball in the country in the midwest as their Triple-A team has some of the best attendance in minor league baseball. However, Indianapolis has not done well in supporting the NBA's Indiana Pacers despite the legends about basketball in the midwest and especially Indiana. Also, a team that goes to Indianapolis could cause some realignment in MLB which would not be ideal for Bud Selig. Indianapolis could possibly take a team from Ohio if the Cleveland Indians or the Cincinnati Reds though that will not be any time soon. So who else could challenge Charlotte and potentially be a better option? The Norfolk-Virginia Beach area is one of the biggest areas in the Mid-Atlantic as it has grown at a rate of 6 percent and has a total population of around 1.67 million people. Norfolk is a prime location for a baseball team due to its location on the Atlantic Coast and baseball could bring in even more tourism. Norfolk also has a strong middle class due to the large naval base that is in Norfolk. Norfolk has also shown it can support a Major League Laccrose team but it is unknown beyond that. Norfolk has tried to get a Major League team before as they were ready to expand Harbor Park to get the Montreal Expos but Major League Baseball decided to move the team to Washington. Norfolk would definitely be a viable option that could compete against Charlotte as Norfolk would probably be able to put all their support easily towards one team like the Rays. However, Norfolk is not a proven city that has shown they can hold a professional team since they have never had one and they aren't growing at the same rate as Charlotte so Norfolk will not beat out Charlotte. There is one more city that could possibly challenge Charlotte and that is Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is one of the biggest metro areas in Virginia as 1.25 million people live in the Richmond metro area as the city has also been growing at a rate of over 14% over the last decade. Richmond has very good support for minor league baseball as they have better attendance than Norfolk or Charlotte's minor league teams despite the fact that Richmond's team is a level lower. Richmond has a very strong core in its fan base but I'm not sure how strong that core really is. Richmond is also only around 100 miles from Washington and this would put a third team within 100 to 110 miles of the nation's capital. Richmond has also never had a professional team and does not currently have the interest needed to get a team. At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays should move to Charlotte as Charlotte would be a much better fit than Tampa. However, MLB will do whatever it can take to try to keep the Rays in Tampa from their current position on the Rays franchise.  

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