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.
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.