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Est1980

The Viability of Florida Cities as Sports Markets

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Sounds good - it would be nice if we could establish there's one halfway-decent sports market in the whole state of Florida.

...and the pop-shots continue.

Our Marlins are a tragedy. We get it. Fire sales and bad play...... Sadness.

Our Canes are mediocre. They have been mediocre since joining the ACC. JRS is 20+ miles from Coral Gables which is where UM's campus is. Attendance will be bad.

The Panthers.....pretty bad. The games that I have been to over the past three years, have been loaded but still not an appealing draw.

Fine. Now as bad as my beloved Dolphins have been, we still have no black outs. Stadium cap is at 75K. Drawing 68-73 while being below average is not bad at all. We are there. We might be late, but we are there.

Say what you want but our Heat have been doing well in attendance and that whole "leaving early" thing last year, that was a blown up story which inflated the amount of fans that made it to the concourse area right before Jesus hit that shot. It was such a stupid story because I know for a fact this happens in other places.

I can say that out of all the teams here in South FL, Fins, Canes and Heat have always been great fan bases. Of course you guys don't really know about the past fan history of these teams because of the lack of social media available in the 70/80/90s but I remember. I also remember and very well, the crappy state of certain teams that were terrible that are now perennial contenders so, mediocrity as well as success can have a direct effect on attendance. That is of course if you base fandom completely on attendance.

Now, This is all in South FL. I can't speak on Central FL but I can tell you that FSU and UF have a better collegiate atmosphere than the Canes and have an outstanding fan base. Don't get caught up in ESPN's garbage. Many of those writers (Bob Ryan, Wilbon) that constantly bash South FL still have residual bitterness over the whole LeBron James thing (for some reason) which has splintered throughout the nation.

We might not have complete sellouts during a 1-15 season but we, the state of Florida, do have more than one "halfway" decent fan base.

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Maybe in college - I don't follow that. I understand that those markers are pretty solid.

But as for the pros, "we're totally front-runners" isn't perhaps the strongest defense of a market. ;) If you don't like potshots at being a terrible market, don't be a terrible market. The worst MLB market is still in Florida. The worst NFL market is still in Florida. Even when those teams are winning they play to empty seats. And there are no truly excellent markets in the state to offset those embarrassing failures.

You also can't deny that the last MLS foray into Florida was nothing short of a disaster. But that was a while ago, and maybe the markets have changed. Time for Orlando, and then Miami, to show just how much. I would love to be proven wrong there.

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Maybe in college - I don't follow that. I understand that those markers are pretty solid.

But as for the pros, "we're totally front-runners" isn't perhaps the strongest defense of a market. ;) If you don't like potshots at being a terrible market, don't be a terrible market. The worst MLB market is still in Florida. The worst NFL market is still in Florida. Even when those teams are winning they play to empty seats. And there are no truly excellent markets in the state to offset those embarrassing failures.

You also can't deny that the last MLS foray into Florida was nothing short of a disaster. But that was a while ago, and maybe the markets have changed. Time for Orlando, and then Miami, to show just how much. I would love to be proven wrong there.

The sins of the franchise are not the sins of the market. The Florida Marlins are, without a doubt, the worst team fan-wise in the sport. But are you really going to blame that on the market? The team sucks because it has a corrupt management that doesn't care about the team or the city, outright fleecing them. Can you blame the fans for not showing up?

The Rays are second, and they're a good team and well run, but their home is TERRIBLE. Not only is it a dump they've been trying to escape from, but it's in a location that is extremely hard to access. If they got a new park in the suburbs or in Tampa, they'd likely do very well. After all, despite the second worst attendance in baseball, they have staggering TV ratings. People want to see the games and support the team, just not under the dome.

The Dolphins and Buccaneers both have no blackouts this year. The Dolphins have a huge Floridian fandom, but the Bucs are much younger and have been facing incredible struggles this year. Nevertheless they're still going strong.

The Jaguars are a terrible team. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The team that installed a scoreboard that showed other teams' games. The team that had a network affiliate apologize for having to show their game instead of the Manning Bowl. But, what do you expect? They're in Jacksonville. Florida was already a fairly saturated market, and they're right next to the Georgia border, where the Falcons reign supreme. Really, they didn't have a chance, but that's one out of FOUR sports markets in Florida. You certainly can't damn the whole state just because of them.

To be honest, I don't know much about the basketball scene down there, save for the fact that one of their teams put together a triad of players that have won consecutive championships.

Oh, and they have two NHL teams... in Florida. The NHL exists in Florida. And those teams apparently get support, because for all the talk I hear about the Coyotes being on life support for years, I've never heard one thing about the Lightning or Panthers.

Really, condemning Florida as being a bad market just isn't right. Sure, they've got some rotten apples, but they've also got a huge amount of teams. They have four cities with 9 (soon to be 10) teams. We can compare to New York. New York has nine teams. A few years ago, the Nets were the worst team in basketball, with absolutely no share of the market. The Knicks were getting inundated with death threats towards Isaiah Thomas and the Dolans over their tanked season. The Islanders to this day are rotting in their concrete tomb (although they've now found a way out). The Mets are seriously starting to falter, as are the Yankees, and a bad offseason could lead to a meager 2014. The Jets have managed to keep their heads above water, but were looked at this summer as having one foot in the grave. Do such issues mean that the New York market is total poops? No. It's just big. Some teams are bound to suck, but that doesn't reflect on the town.

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Glad they like hockey. Because they're still the worst baseball market in the country.

Name me one Florida market that has a history of consistently supporting multiple sports teams. Maybe Orlando does, with only the Magic, I don't know. But the others compete for worst ever in at least one sport. And unfortunately, both soccer teams are going into markets that already have at least one team.

I really don't want this MLS expansion to fail. I want it to work. Maybe this time Florida can step up.

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Glad they like hockey. Because they're still the worst baseball market in the country.

Name me one Florida market that has a history of consistently supporting multiple sports teams. Maybe Orlando does, with only the Magic, I don't know. But the others compete for worst ever in at least one sport. And unfortunately, both soccer teams are going into markets that already have at least one team.

I really don't want this MLS expansion to fail. I want it to work. Maybe this time Florida can step up.

Ow, my head. I usually agree with you on matters, but this one's just leaving me puzzled. College is huge, but you dismissed that. Then you were shown the NHL, and dismissed that. You can't just throw away everything people bring to the table on the matter because it's not baseball. I love baseball. It's friggin' awesome. It's a level above the other sports, but the others still need to be considered when the issue is the validity of the market. Lightning and Buccaneers. Panthers and Dolphins. That's two teams. And that's dismissing the Heat just because they're the best team in the sport right now. Not to mention strong college franchises, including one of the top NCAA football teams currently.

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Both the Orlando and Miami franchises will be entering cities with at least one market. Is there a single Florida city that has shown itself to be able to support more than one?

Tampa might be able to support the Lightning, but they actively ignore the Rays. The best argument for Miami so far is they will support winners, which isn't exactly complimentary.

So how will these two new teams fare in a crowded marketplace? History indicates not well, though I would love to be proven wrong.

As for college, that's a whole different dynamic. Doesn't need the same corporate base, for one. There are plenty of outstanding college markets would have no business with a major league pro team.

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Even when those teams are winning they play to empty seats

. Well it's been a while since the Fins have had constant success. Except for that 2008 division championship year, we've been pretty mediocre since '03. During that span, we've had a few sub .500 seasons, to include a 1-15 campaign. What....you don't expect a drop off in attendance? Get real. I grew up watching and attending games during the Marino years in which the team was above average, and I will tell you that the attendance wasn't an issue. it has dipped since '04 but even now, through mediocrity, the attendance isn't as bad as it seems. Like I said before, we are late to games though lol. (not me but in general)

Sorry for the diatribe.

About MLS in Miami....I have my concerns. Even though I'd like for us to have a team, again... I fear the approach that Becks and co are taking. Stadium location?...Stadium type? I worry. Heard a rumor he wants a 75K house. I don't get that. Small, intimate. SSS would be ideal. I've been watching the growth of the MLS for the past 3 years and right now is a good time for us to get a second chance IF and only if they can sort those issues. If they can't do those things, we might as well not waste the league's time.

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Both the Orlando and Miami franchises will be entering cities with at least one market. Is there a single Florida city that has shown itself to be able to support more than one?

Tampa might be able to support the Lightning, but they actively ignore the Rays. The best argument for Miami so far is they will support winners, which isn't exactly complimentary.

So how will these two new teams fare in a crowded marketplace? History indicates not well, though I would love to be proven wrong.

As for college, that's a whole different dynamic. Doesn't need the same corporate base, for one. There are plenty of outstanding college markets would have no business with a major league pro team.

But... I just said Lightning and Bucs in Tampa and Dolphins and Panthers in Miami. That's more than one. That's literally what I said. Not to mention explaining that the Rays have a large TV presence but little attendance, showing that support issues are based around their home, which isn't completely the fans' fault.

To be honest, given the big Latin presence in South Florida, I'd say they'd do well. Fans already have a big support for their home teams. Perhaps they'd be better served doing what Chivas did and hook up with a team down there or go by the style. I'd definitely suggest a Spanish name.

Even when those teams are winning they play to empty seats

. Well it's been a while since the Fins have had constant success. Except for that 2008 division championship year, we've been pretty mediocre since '03. During that span, we've had a few sub .500 seasons, to include a 1-15 campaign. What....you don't expect a drop off in attendance? Get real. I grew up watching and attending games during the Marino years in which the team was above average, and I will tell you that the attendance wasn't an issue. it has dipped since '04 but even now, through mediocrity, the attendance isn't as bad as it seems. Like I said before, we are late to games though lol. (not me but in general)

Sorry for the diatribe.

About MLS in Miami....I have my concerns. Even though I'd like for us to have a team, again... I fear the approach that Becks and co are taking. Stadium location?...Stadium type? I worry. Heard a rumor he wants a 75K house. I don't get that. Small, intimate. SSS would be ideal. I've been watching the growth of the MLS for the past 3 years and right now is a good time for us to get a second chance IF and only if they can sort those issues. If they can't do those things, we might as well not waste the league's time.

Is there enough room in Marlins Stadium for a pitch? They'd surely draw better than the Fish.

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I used to work in television - tv ratings aren't a very good measure of anything. When the players themselves are calling out the fans for not showing up in a pennant race, it's a bad fanbase. Blaming the ballpark is a cheap excuse - Pittsbughers or Milwaukeeans or Kansas Citizens would gladly drive across a bridge twice as far to see that team.

We'll see. As I said, I really want this round of MLS expansion to be every bit the home run that the Cascadia expansion was. I'm just a little skeptical based on history.

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Alright, here's my shot at it, don't take this too seriously.

Tampa Bay: The Lightning are currently 11th in attendance. Not bad for the second NHL team in Florida, not bad at all. But they do have a good team, and a downtown stadium, so they seem to be doing fine. The Bucs are 30th in attendance, despite fielding a miserable team, they've had decent fan support over the years. Rays have lived in a dump, they finished dead last in attendance. They also fielded a great team, and had a lot of TV/Media coverage around them, I think a new stadium and new location would really help their situation, but I really don't know if it's more of a support problem or a Trop-is-a-dump problem.

Miami: Panthers suck, their attendance sucks, they've never had good support. Heat are supported very well, but they're back-to-back champs. They've had good support throughout their existence near the bottom when bad, pretty high when good. The Phins are 26th in attendance, and their team is pretty mediocre to say the least. Pretty average. Not that bad, I'd assume it would be higher if they were worth a crap. The Marlins are 29th and field a crappy team with a scumbag of an owner, they suck, their fans have hardly a reason to support them.

Orlando: Magic have never really had that bad of problems, weren't great last year, but they were practically tanking.

Jacksonville: Jaguars have never been giving a crap for.

UF, FSU, and the U have great support.

With the way Florida has grown since early 2000, I'll say Orlando, and maybe Miami are worth a chance.

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I kinda get the feeling that Florida suffers from the same thing that west coast sports teams do. Because they're not in the center of sports culture, their good deeds go largely unnoticed, and any mistake they make gets put under a microscope. It's not at all fair, and it's a bit ridiculous at times, but it just kinda is what it is.

Now, granted, it's not as bad as it used to be out west due to things like ESPN and FOX sports getting a studios in Los Angeles, but the west still certainly doesn't get the same coverage as the east coast.

I mean sure, Florida has had some teams fold, but the MLS in the late 90s is a pretty poor indicator when looking at the feasibility of a market. Same goes with baseball. One has arguably the worst stadium situation in baseball, and the other has hands down the worst owner in all of sports. They have two hockey teams(!) in an area that's so far from any real outdoor ice that it's not even funny, yet they still make it work. The Dolphins are almost always a good draw, and before the Glazer's purchase of Man U the Bucs had an enormous waiting list for season tickets. The Jaguars are awful, but that market was a huge stretch from the get go.

The Magic have always drawn pretty well. And really, you can't just ignore college teams and the Heat because they don't fit your particular argument.

And it's funny, now that I think about it, I NEVER hear these types of arguments from people who are actually in/close to these south/west cities. It seems like it always comes from someone from the northeast telling everyone else how their sports markets just aren't viable.

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And you'll never get an honest assessment from southerners because they have such a siege mentality all the time. It's a vicious cycle.

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While I was in Tampa/St. Pete last month, we went to a bar not too far from Tropicana Field and I struck up a conversation with a local sports fan. I asked him what's the deal with Rays attendance. His response:

1. Most of the fans live in Tampa and Tampa's suburbs. At best, it's a 40-minute drive from Tampa to the Trop's lots. (If you've seen that Braves map, think of the bright red splotches north of Atlanta being even further away from Turner Field.) It's difficult to get familes to go on school/work nights.

2. Tourism. There are so many non-locals on Tampa's roads that the locals would rather watch the games on TV than deal with extra people on the roads that don't know where they're going. Rush hour is simply longer. Begins at 3pm and lasts well after 7pm.

3. "A day at the beach is cheaper than going to a ballgame." Can't argue that when you're a summertime sport being played in a city with long summers.

4. The team's not even 20 years old yet. They've yet to have their "Rays-only fans"....they're still in the "Rays fan, except when the Yankees are in town" stage.

5. Stadium sucks. I thought it was an ok venue, but I can see his point about the building's layout (inside and out) not being a selling point. He believes that the team would get a ton more fans if the stadium were in Tampa, and even a few more fans if the stadium were on the northern part of St. Petersburg. And, I can't recall all that much to see and do near the stadium. It's near a bunch of business buildings and people's homes, kinda like Turner Field.

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Alright, here's my shot at it, don't take this too seriously.

Tampa Bay: The Lightning are currently 11th in attendance. Not bad for the second NHL team in Florida,

The Lightning were the first NHL team in Florida. Lightning began play in 1992. The Florida Panthers began play in 1993.

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Interesting thoughts, thanks. This one I have to take issue with:

4. The team's not even 20 years old yet. They've yet to have their "Rays-only fans"....they're still in the "Rays fan, except when the Yankees are in town" stage.

Fifteen years is more than long enough to make inroads into any decent market. Especially when the team is consistently good, with marketable young stars. Fifteen years means that every kid in attendance has had the Rays as far back as they can remember. What exactly is Tampa Bay waiting for?

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The Dolphins had a playoff game against Indianapolis about a decade ago blacked out because they had (if I recall correctly) roughly 10,000 unsold seats. I listened to that one on the radio in a rental car. That's all you need to know about the market.

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Interesting thoughts, thanks. This one I have to take issue with:

4. The team's not even 20 years old yet. They've yet to have their "Rays-only fans"....they're still in the "Rays fan, except when the Yankees are in town" stage.

Fifteen years is more than long enough to make inroads into any decent market. Especially when the team is consistently good, with marketable young stars. Fifteen years means that every kid in attendance has had the Rays as far back as they can remember. What exactly is Tampa Bay waiting for?

This argument is done to death in hockey. "Attendance may not be good now, but wait until the kids who grew up with this team are old enough to buy their own season tickets!" Then it becomes "Attendance may not be good now, but wait until the kids who grew up with this team when it was good are old enough to buy their own season tickets!" No, I'm not gonna wait, this is stupid.

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3. "A day at the beach is cheaper than going to a ballgame." Can't argue that when you're a summertime sport being played in a city with long summers.

It is hard to argue with that. It also means the market, in all likelihood, just isn't cut out for Major League Baseball.

Interesting thoughts, thanks. This one I have to take issue with:

4. The team's not even 20 years old yet. They've yet to have their "Rays-only fans"....they're still in the "Rays fan, except when the Yankees are in town" stage.

Fifteen years is more than long enough to make inroads into any decent market. Especially when the team is consistently good, with marketable young stars. Fifteen years means that every kid in attendance has had the Rays as far back as they can remember. What exactly is Tampa Bay waiting for?

This argument is done to death in hockey. "Attendance may not be good now, but wait until the kids who grew up with this team are old enough to buy their own season tickets!" Then it becomes "Attendance may not be good now, but wait until the kids who grew up with this team when it was good are old enough to buy their own season tickets!" No, I'm not gonna wait, this is stupid.

Yeah, a sports team is a business first and foremost. At a certain point continuously pushing for the potential of future riches after a decade+ of constant losses becomes idiotic.

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