Good News For MLS Negotiators Who Like Bad News

I read this via DuNord, and hopefully its huge methodological problems won't obscure what I think are some very helpful points.

Assuming you haven't read it already, the gist is this. Some towns and communities are doing better than others when it comes to disposable income. If one assumes that disposable income is the key factor in whether a professional sports team survives in a community, then all one would have to do to scout potential expansion spots is to run those numbers.

Which is what G. Scott Thomas did. Here's the problem.

Which is why we get to read a chart suggesting that MLS ought to consider expanding to Worcester, Massachusetts. Or Springfield, Massachusetts. Or, for all I can tell from the chart, both.

Oh, the chart. Gotta read the fine print. "100" means acceptable location possibility. 70-99 means "borderline," and below that is "insufficient." I wasn't a statistics major, but I'm absolutely sure there would have been a numbering or labeling system that wouldn't be so misleading. Turns out Worcester WOULDN'T be a good NFL expansion possibility.

I keep singling out Worcester, because it's 45 or so miles from Foxborough. Boston, which has claimed Foxborough as a sports colony, is something link 33 miles away.

At this point, I started to feel bad for Thomas. There's no rational reason to separate out Oxnard from a "Los Angeles" that includes Orange County, or a "New York" that stretches from East Rutherford to Uniondale…but there's no reason not to, either. You can't really quantify why Richmond and Norfolk will never in a billion years have an NFL franchise, because you can't put a number on how ferociously the territorial rights of the Washington Racist Nicknames would be defended.

But the point is, there should have been a failsafe to prevent having to consider whether one or more Western Massachusetts towns should field teams to compete against the god-damned Red Sox. (Even if the answer is "no, they probably shouldn't.") Or against concluding that while Tucson is ripe for MLS, Phoenix is a no-go area. Or that the NFL can't survive in Green Bay.

So I'm heartbroken about this chart, because I want to use it to scream "You SEE? Chivas USA should have moved to the Inland Empire YEARS ago, like I've been saying!" Trouble is, by that same logic I'm saying Real Salt Lake should move to Little Rock. Or that not only should Chivas USA stay put, MLS should put another two or three teams in the Home Depot Center, because there's just so much disposable income around.

Inconveniently, I've also been screaming for CUSA to move to St. Louis, where all their money is tied up in various Cardinals.

There's another lesson in there that's going to be buried, but it's important to keep in mind. What lies behind the premise that Poughkeepsie could support a thriving MLS team?

Oh, sorry – he's referring to Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and Denver. Two of those places already have their own stadiums, of course, but that hasn't kept anyone from suggesting they move before this.* It will be reassuring when the Wizards finally get their own stadium, though, and not just for all the Hogwarts jokes.

Now, unless I badly miss my guess, MLS teams don't turn over as much actual factual cash as MLB teams. So I have to think that MLS teams can theoretically survive in small markets, because they don't spend as much.

On things like, players.

Now, this is one guy, with time to spend on pondering whether Tulsa could support five pro teams. (Apparently, they could.)** But he doesn't seem to be a soccer honk, so I do find it interesting that this guy took the time to add MLS as the "fifth major sport."

ITTET, Major League Soccer, arguably the fifth major sport, can expand almost at random and be highly successful.

Despite paying players in circus peanuts?

Because of paying players in circus peanuts?

Yeah, a lot of the premises behind this are wrong, wrong, wrong. They'd better all be wrong, though, because otherwise…you know that post Bill made about the CBA negotiations? Yeah, he was being a sunny, bright-eyed optimist. The players are boned.

*Columbus highlights another methodological flaw – the main rival for the central Ohio sports dollar isn't the Blue Jackets, but Devin Barclay's The Ohio State University. So the Crew have a semipro basketball team and a pro football team to compete with, and might qualify as "overextended" as well.

**And already do, per previous footnote, although Norman and Stillwater are down the road a little.

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