Can St. Louis Support its 3 Professional Sports Teams?

The St. Louis Business Journal recently posted a blog entry about whether St. Louis can support the Cardinals, Rams and Blues. http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/blog/2011/08/st-louis-among-most-overextended.html

The article is based on a report from On Numbers. On Numbers analyzed 85 metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada to determine if they have the financial ability to support professional teams in baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer. Their analysis indicates we don’t have the personal income to support all three of our teams.

They estimate that a city needs a minimum income base to support a professional team. Their minimum income bases were estimated to be $85.4 billion for MLB, $37.6 billion for the NHL, and $36.7 billion for the NFL.

A few questions quickly popped into my head:

  1. Did they adequately capture the entire St. Louis metropolitan region? I’ll give On Numbers the benefit of the doubt on this one.
  2. How do they factor in the relative popularity of a team, i.e. the popularity of the Cardinals in this area compared to the popularity of the Florida Marlins in Miami? I don’t think they tried, understandably.
  3. Did they factor in “crossover popularity”, i.e. are the same St. Louis fans going to Cardinal games and Rams and Blues games? I don’t think they did. It appears from a very quick glance that the purpose of On Numbers analysis was to gauge the capacity of a city to support a NEW team, either from expansion or relocation, not an established team with a rabid fan base.

I remain convinced that St. Louis can and will support all three of our great professional sports teams and don’t read too much into On Numbers analysis. Take it for what it is – an expansion and relocation study.