Given recent discussion about the possibility of a new arena in SoDo, filled by the NBA, NHL or both, some in the media have wondered about the success rate of markets that contain franchises from both leagues. And beyond that, some question whether success is determined by whether the franchises share an arena, or have their own. In reality, it may depend on whether the same ownership group owns the arena and both franchises. Otherwise, if one team is renting the building and not getting all the possible revenues the arena provides, it may be at a disadvantage compared to its co-tenant. Without diving into attendance records, which often fluctuates with on court or on ice success, or the suite and club seat sales, reflective of the amount of corporate presence in a market, I’ll just show the common markets and their arenas for comparison sake, along with distance between buildings. The markets are mainly determined by primary census statistical areas. And just for fun, I’ll throw Seattle into the comparison to see how it fits, with a twist. Again, this is conditioned on major league sized arenas based on capacity (minimum 17K seats). I didn’t measure distance between arenas in the New York area, they’re all relatively close together, except Nassau Coliseum.
Top 10 markets
1. New York/New Jersey
Madison Square Garden (Knicks/Rangers); Barclays Center (Nets, Fall 2012); Prudential Center, Newark (Devils/Nets); Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale (Islanders)
2. Los Angeles
Staples Center (Lakers, Clippers, Kings); Honda Center, Anaheim (Ducks) – 30 miles
United Center (Bulls/Blackhawks)
Verizon Center (Wizards/Capitals)
TD Garden (Celtics/Bruins)
6. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
Oracle Arena (Warriors); HP Pavilion (Sharks) – 40 miles
7. Dallas/Fort Worth
American Airlines Center (Mavericks/Stars)
Wells Fargo Center (76ers, Flyers)
Next 10 markets
11. Miami/Fort Lauderdale
American Airlines Arena, Miami (Heat); BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise (Panthers) – 35 miles
Joe Louis Arena (Red Wings); The Palace, Auburn Hills (Pistons) – 33 miles
US Airways Arena (Suns); Jobing.com Arena, Glendale (Coyotes) – 20 miles
KeyArena; Tacoma Dome – 35 miles
15. Minneapolis/St. Paul
Target Center, Minneapolis (Timberwolves); Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul (Wild) – 10 miles
Pepsi Center (Nuggets/Avalanche)
Some observations. It’s not surprising that nearly all the top 10 markets have teams in both leagues. Their population, corporate base and local media should be able to support them. The only top 10 markets that do not host both leagues are Houston and Atlanta. Atlanta, of course, had both sharing an arena until the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg last year. The second time the NHL has left Atlanta. Houston has never had an NHL team, and while they have a relatively new arena, there may be concern about the NHL adding another Sunbelt market. However, I tend to think Houston would be a success, more modeled after Dallas than Atlanta.
The next 10 markets aren’t as certain due to smaller populations, corporate bases and local media support compared to the larger markets. For all dual markets, you can see it’s a mixture of shared arenas and arenas for separate sports. Detroit seems to be doing fine with two arenas, while Phoenix and Miami/Fort Lauderdale haven’t. The Twin Cities also appear to be doing fine with two, as does Denver does with one. Again, it’s all subjective until one starts measuring attendance and high end seat sales. I added Seattle/Tacoma to remind that we already have two arenas, they just happen to both need significant renovation to be useful for the NBA or NHL. And while it’s likely that if a new arena is built in SoDo it would host both leagues, it’s not the only option. Some other time I may dedicate a post as to how the Tacoma/South Sound market alone (ie, without greater Seattle and it’s benefits) actually compares reasonably well to some current NHL markets.
Measured by total personal income (TPI) in each of these dual markets, and the TPI necessary to support each of the major league franchises the markets have, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Denver are overextended. In other words, they don’t have enough TPI to support all of their major league franchises across all sports. If Seattle/Tacoma was to become a dual market, in addition to hosting the NFL, MLB and MLS, it’d be overextended as well, but by less than any of those markets mentioned above. This is because we live in a relatively wealthy market for our size. But the decision to place teams in a particular market, and the eventual success of that market, is determined by things beyond just the amount of wealth in a region. And not all of those criteria are necessarily measurable.