In a recent study by the Sports Business Journal, Erie, PA, ranked 25th out of 248 minor league markets.
The study looked primarily at three factors weighted as follows:
- Tenure (67%)
- Attendance (20%)
- Economy (13%)
Although the study included a large variety of leagues spanning five sports (Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey and Soccer,) only one basketball league was included — the NBA D-League. While the absence of other basketball leagues is likely due in large part to their volatile nature, the study noted specifically that the American Basketball Association (ABA), and the International Basketball League (IBL) were both omitted from the study due to a lack of attendance data which would have accounted for 1/5 of their score.
While Erie ranked well overall at #25, there may be reason to be optimistic that the next version of this study might yield even better results for the city, as the study’s biggest factor is tenure.
This score, which accounts for two-thirds of each market’s grade, comes from a formula that includes such support measurements as each team’s length of presence in its market and the total number of team-years in the last five seasons.
. . .
Our tenure category essentially prevents new teams in new markets in new facilities from skewing results, while rewarding markets that have retained their current clubs.
Whether you elect to view it in light of rewarding markets for stability in maintaining organizations, or punishing markets who have recently introduced organizations simply because they’re new, it nevertheless negatively impacts Erie’s score in this ranking.
If we break down Erie’s score by the three factors, Erie ranks #6, #16 and #30 in Economy, Attendance and Tenure, respectively. In short, Erie ranks lowest in the category which is weighted the most. However, with the BayHawks having only been in existence for three seasons, the city is not only not getting the benefit of having a long presence in Erie, but because it has existed less than five seasons (the study’s cut-off point for new teams,) the city is also getting docked for essentially being unproven.
I write this not to question the methodology of the study –I’m not– but rather only to point out Erie’s potential for climbing the rankings simply by the BayHawks maintaining their presence past the “new kid in town” stage. With two consecutive years of climbing attendance, and coming off their best season in terms of wins, I think it’s fair to suggest that their future presence in Erie looks bright. And with attendance and tenure being two of the three factors in the market ranking, I think it’s fair to suggest that Erie’s status amongst other minor league markets, too, looks bright.