updated 10/4/2004 9:31:02 AM ET 2004-10-04T13:31:02

American City Business Journals has devised a formula to gauge future expansion or relocation possibilities in professional sports. Here’s how it works:

Our system is based on total personal income (TPI), the sum of all money earned by all residents of an area in a given year. We used official TPI data from 2002, the latest year for which statistics are available from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

The study covers the nation’s 172 economic areas, as defined by BEA. Each area consists of an urban center and its surrounding region. The components of all economic areas are listed at http://www.bea.gov/bea/regional/docs/econlist.asp.

Markets in Canada and other countries are not included.

Available income
Our study focuses on expansion or relocation potential within five leagues:

-- Major League Baseball (MLB)

-- National Football League (NFL)

-- National Basketball Association (NBA)

-- National Hockey League (NHL)

-- Major League Soccer (MLS)

We used estimated team revenues and average ticket prices to calculate how much TPI is needed to support a team in each league. Estimated requirements range from $70.4 billion of TPI for an MLB team to $14.1 billion for an MLS franchise.

We then calculated each area’s available personal income (API) by subtracting the TPI needed to support the market’s existing teams. Houston, for example, had TPI of $195.0 billion. But its three franchises (MLB, NFL and NBA) needed a base of $136.6 billion, resulting in API of $58.4 billion.

Teams in secondary professional leagues, such as the Women's National Basketball Association and the Arena Football League, were not counted against a market's API. Nor were minor-league teams.

Capacity scores
Our final step was to determine market capacity ratings for every area, using a 100-point scale.

A score of 100 indicates that a market’s income base is strong enough to support a team in a specific league. A lesser figure is a sign of insufficient API. Twenty-three markets, for example, earned 100 points in the NHL category.

Keep in mind that a market's scores for all sports would change if it were awarded a new franchise in one of them, since its API would be reduced.

We focused on open markets, which is why we did not produce capacity scores for any area that already has a team in a given league. It’s possible that MLB might want to put a third team in New York someday, for example, but it's highly unlikely that the Yankees or Mets would ever allow it.

— G. Scott Thomas

American City Business Journals, Inc.


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