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No, San Antonio will not be getting an MLB team any time soon

You are right to be skeptical.

Nothing wrong with the team they have now

It’s a development that has become as predictable as yellow pollen in the spring. A Major League Baseball franchise, struggling financially, seeks a new stadium deal, a new location, a new life.

In the midst of resulting contention, options are explored. Such as relocating to another area.

San Antonio, for instance.

These days, the city has again cropped up in reports and online forums as a suggested target for the Oakland Athletics, frustrated in a bid to move to nearby San Jose, Calif., or the Tampa Bay Rays, fighting to draw meaningful crowds over the past three seasons despite superb results.

“If, however, the smoke leads to fire, then one must ask: What will become of the A’s?” a blogger offered last month. “Will we once again be subjected to half-serious rumors of contraction? Are the Portland/Las Vegas/San Antonio/Charlotte/New Jersey/Mexico City A’s in our future? Will the status remain quo?”

It’s familiar distant speculation about baseball, the kind of saber-rattling to which San Antonio sports fans have become accustomed over the past decade.

After all, the city was mentioned in various levels of conjecture as a possible destination for the Montreal Expos as early as 2003, the Florida Marlins in 2006 and Seattle Mariners in 2008.

It all amounted to a mound of beans, and these latest wild pitches will, too.

The powers that be in San Antonio and Bexar County are equally skeptical, as they should be. The simple fact is that there aren’t enough people in the San Antonio urban area or MSA for this to be worthwhile. It’s basic math – look at the numbers:

MSA 2010 Pop ================================================== San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA MSA 4,335,391 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA 2,783,243 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA 2,142,508 Urban Area 2010 Pop ================================================== San Francisco-Oakland, CA 3,228,605 Tampa-Saint Petersburg, FL 2,062,339 San Antonio, TX 1,327,554

In each case, fewer people than Tampa, and less than half of the two-team San Francisco/Oakland area. What’s the value proposition for a franchise owner to move to San Antonio? Some day maybe, but not now. That’s really all there is to this.

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  1. Gary Bennett says:

    First of all, your urban area data are not up to date: 2010: San Francisco 3,281,212; Tampa 2,441,770; San Antonio 1,758,210. The rankings here are not affected, but the ratios are much closer. Secondly, there are at least four major league cities with smaller urban areas than San Antone: Pittsburgh 1,733,853; Cincinnati 1,624,827; Kansas City 1,519,417; and Milwaukee 1,376,476. All of these are also either losing people or growing much more slowly than SA. Thirdly, promoters often talk about a larger drawing area for attendance; if you add Austin, 90 minutes up the road, the combined SMA’s jump to about 4,000,000 (and growing almost 100,000 per year).
    There are of course intangibles one way or another that go beyond numbers. To the negative, San Antonio is one of the poorer SMAs in the country. To the positive, there is a city pride in supporting whatever crumbs the pros choose to extend their way(hence the fierce support of the Spurs). And there’s no competition for an audience. Perhaps in Tampa/St Petersburg, there are a lot of retirees who really don’t like to get out a lot. And by the numbers argument, Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston should support TWO teams each (each is larger than San Francisco/Oakland); but there are no natural reason the cities would be ready to divide loyalties.
    I do not have any irons in this fire, by the way, as I detest baseball. But I hate to see statistics abused!

  2. Gary – You’re right about the urban area data. I hadn’t realized what I was citing was from 2000. My bad. As for the smaller MSAs you cite, none of those franchises are talked about as possibly relocating. The A’s and Rays are, which is why I made the comparison to their MSAs. My point is simply that the San Antonio MSA is a lot smaller than the ones they are currently in, and as such it doesn’t make sense to view San Antonio as a viable relocation possibility. For now, anyway – I agree that down the road it will be more likely.