Population talk

At The Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown and Thomas Kelsey did a study of population per MLB market (existing and prospective) based on commute times to the home ballpark or site. Read the post and take a look at the table. While it’s a subject we’ve covered here at the local level, this comparison also includes potential relocation candidate markets. The census data used is from 2000, so it isn’t exactly up-to-date, yet it provides a reasonably good picture of what the markets look like.

Population in millions. Data from 2000 Census, compiled by Thomas Kelsey for The Biz of Baseball

Presented in this fashion, it’s interesting that Oakland appears most populous due to its central location relative to the rest of the Bay Area. As one might expect, there’s less population within an hour when the A’s are moved from the Coliseum to Victory Court. Based on population alone, San Jose falls into a mid-market range filled out by the Rockies, Indians, Twins, and Mariners. It’s also far superior to any potential relocation market except for perhaps a mythical northern New Jersey opening. It goes to show why, for various reasons, the A’s are not fully exploiting the Bay Area as they should. Oakland partisans will argue that the central location is best, whereas San Jose partisans will argue that the South Bay is the part of the market not getting exploited. All other factors (economic, demographic) aside, the A’s should be able to thrive in the Bay Area once they get a proper ballpark in which they can compete with the Giants.

25 thoughts on “Population talk

  1. What does that table look like if you don’t count people in a shared radius twice? Or if you weight people in a shared radius by how close they are to one or the other? (i.e., a person halfway between O.co & AT&T gets counts 0.5 for each, but a person who lives across the street from AT&T Park gets 0.99 for AT&T and only 0.01 for O.co).

  2. RM,
    As a refresher, isn’t 20 mile radius the magic number in terms of season ticket holder distance from a ballpark? Those that attend 81 home games per year? It would be interesting to see a graph in terms of corporate wealth and amount within designated distance of city/ballparks.

  3. Also add per capita income to my last thought.

  4. Hartford looks appealing!

  5. Tony, not answering for RM but the reality is that commute time is probably a function of creating that 20 mile radius. In other words, the 21 mile halo is more a function of how hard it is to get to the park from anywhere else in the region. So, that halo will change from market to market depending on numerous factors (of which commute time is just one)

  6. …Portland, San Antonio and Charlotte definitely look viable. Throw in the fact that they don’t have another team playing 12 miles away and the so-called advantage the East Bay is supposed to have is wiped out. And if any of these places offer to help pay for the ballpark, which Oakland won’t do, then we could be looking at any of these 3 spots as the future home of the A’s.

  7. Pjk, not hardly. Less than 2 million people within an hour means that only Portland and Hartford are even worth thinking about.

  8. Sorry, Cisco Field, you look like Miami west, but we have winners at O.co and Victory Court. Either one will be fine for me. 30-45 mins is the sweet spot, AND TonyD, the incomes are very good in that range,

  9. Jk, how has that central location worked out?

  10. Actually, the “30-45” miles from “The 0” includes a large portion of SCCO/SJ and southern Alameda County (but its OK if you want to believe this puts VC, OcO into some sort of positive light..its your world).
    @Jeffrey, excellent points as always.

  11. Meant minutes, not miles. My bad.

  12. The table above indicates that Oakland has the best market in the Bay Area, but needs a superior product.
    –Parenthetically I was in Downtown Oakland last Friday evening during Art Murmur, a event at the Fox and Yom Kippur Services at the Paramount. Talk about mixing of cultures. I was amazed at the number of clubs in Uptown. Stretching from Broadway to San Pablo. Uptown is working thanks to all the new residents. Now what is needed is a anchor on the west side of Downtown.

    Like my proposed 980 Park ballpark site. The 10 acre site for 980 Park and a parking garage lies between 14th and 18th is free, the air rights are owned by the City. Another 10 acres of freeway air rights between 11th and 14th Streets can be gifted to the ballpark developer to offset costs. This is what Wolff wanted a ballpark site and some land to develop. This should trump SJ.

  13. Re: 980 ballpark A ballpark above a highway?Uh, no. Sounds like the depressing buildings atop the Cross Bronx Expressway that are hardly enticing. What kind of air quality and ambiance would such a ballpark have? Downtown San Jose trumps it all the way. Didn’t Wolff suggest the 980 site would carry an enormous cost, too?

  14. …and you think anybody might have any anxiety attending a game at a ballpark built over a highway in Earthquake Country, a few yards from where the highway already collapsed?

  15. @Ken I agree. It’s tough to draw conclusions when the SF and Oakland markets overlap. The analysis somehow has to separate the two.

  16. BG,
    Oakland has the best market? If you really think about it, SF and Oakland are one in the same. Building at VC, or at your pie in the sky freeway locale, is pretty much akin to building across the street from AT&T Park. And again, the chart doesn’t take into account corporate strength or per capita income; areas where SJ/SV completely dominates Oakland. Add in political dysfunction and I ask you; who has the best market for the A’ again?

  17. GJ10 and Ken,
    We are all definitely on the same page!

  18. re: The table above indicates that Oakland has the best market in the Bay Area, but needs a superior product.
    …for many years, the A’s had a great ballpark and a great product. But what are the numbers? 7 seasons above the median attendance in 44 years? Didn’t the A’s have walk-up tickets available for the World Series in the ’70s when the ballpark was brand new? Empirical evidence disputes the notion that Oakland is “the best market in the Bay Area.”

  19. The chart is interesting, but has several obvious flaws as a guide to the relative merits of the sites:

    1. It does not account for the competitive factor of having AT&T Park practically right next door;
    2. It does not include statistics for potential corporate premium seat customers within the relevant radii. Since these customers likely account for half or more of the stadium revenue, this is a critical omission;
    3. I question its figures for “commute time.” Is it using rush hour times, or low traffic times? If you used actual, real world, rush hour times, which are most relevant for our purposes, I believe the numbers for Oakland and San Jose would be flipped.

    For all three reasons, there simply will not be a privately-financed ballpark in Oakland.

  20. @Jeffrey On the surface Hartford looks intriguing. Connecticut has 3 million people by itself (all of whom live within an hour of Hartford), is typically the highest-per-capita-income state in the country, and has a large corporate base. Traffic in and out of Hartford is relatively minimal.
    .
    However, it suffers from a similar problem as Oakland: Territorial overlap with strong competitors. A large part of that one hour radius is also within about an hour of either the Yankees or Red Sox. A similar dynamic also played a part in the Whalers struggles there (along with consistently poor teams).

  21. Has anyone formally asked the City of Oakland whether it has started the EIR re:Victory Court?

    I’ve read a lot of conjencture but nothing concrete.

    Can anyone obtain an answer?

    A’s observer

  22. @A’s observer – FWIW I have asked too using my work email, which is a well-known Oakland based institution. Not a peep. I’d love it if Oakland partisans pushed hard to get an answer from the city.

  23. @ ML – While this by no means is scientific either (since companies have to pay to get on this map), I’m more inclined to use corporate base as a judge of viability for a new ballpark, something like: http://www.siliconmaps.com/silicon_valley_2011.html .

    @ AO – I have asked several times via email to both the mayor’s office as well as some of the city council members. As GJ10 states, I’d be nice if pro-Oakland backers would take up the initiative to do something about it as opposed to standing on the sidelines.

  24. To Anon, et al:

    I’ve asked.

    Thanks.

    A’s observer

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