Whilst the epic season length of MLB, as I noted before, is likely to be part of the cost of a franchise in that league, the case of the National Football League, with its 16-game regular season and still higher costs than the NBA, shows that the issue cannot be as simple as that.
I have attempted, without research since I unfortunately do not know where to start, to assess the factors that could cause the cost differences. Possibilities identified are:
- Season length: it obviously costs more to run a team playing over a hundred and fifty games than one playing twelve or fourteen as they do in Major League Lacrosse (not considered here)
- Roster size: it should cost more to run a team in a league where roster sizes are large than one where they are small
- Talent pool size: if the talent pool is small due to naturally specific body types (i.e. height as in basketball or netball or volleyball) being required, the cost will be higher.
- If the talent pool is restricted by the sport not being widely played, it should have the same effect, but this may be countered by a smaller money supply in the relevant league.
- I considered the level of training (such as strength training) required to play a sport, but thought the variable too dependent on this fourth variable I shall test to be worthwhile as an addition.
|Talent pool||Medium||Medium||Large||Very small||Very large|
|Stadium utility||Low||Medium||High||Very high||High|
|Stadium size (minimum)||25,000||15,000||50,000||15,000||15,000|
- Apart from roster size, Major League Baseball is by no means ideal for affordable franchise formation.
- The National Football League has problems with a large roster, large stadium size and high (weight-)training costs, but stands favourably in other areas
- The National Basketball Association stands favourably in terms of roster size and stadium utility but the fact that training cannot make people taller means it has a tiny talent pool of potential players who become of extreme price when they are good.
- Major League Soccer stands very favourably placed because:
- it has stadiums of a shape for very good extra-sport utility which lowers costs
- it is not difficult to find players suitable for playing the sport and little protective equipment is needed
- the season length is relatively short
Still, it is interesting to see that potential NHL relocation/expansion markets were not discussed in a study of baseball, gridiron and basketball markets, despite a promise to do so. In my view, ice hockey struggles for viable relocation markets, with Seattle and Portland, Oregon being the most promising. Other theoretically possible ice hockey relocation markets have high living costs and declining populations or cultures and climates unsuited to ice hockey.
The analysis also perhaps fails to suggest that MLB teams should cost as much more than NHL, NFL or NBA teams than they do. Ticket prices may explain a lot of this since they are so much lower in MLB than in the other leagues, but ticket prices would be reflected as part of the fan loyalty criterion and may be multiplicative.