A bit more rambling on the concept of one company owning three teams in a five-team division … who gets the most attention? Let’s take a quick look at the teams:
Amarillo Sox – no history (new team) but a town that has supported baseball for a long time in the United League. If the previous team had made rent, the Sox wouldn’t be there and Amarillo would be watching a defending champion play. So, good community support to start.
Grand Prairie AirHogs – 2707 average attendance per game last year (above the league average) – dismal start to the second half that may have chased some people away, core fans have probably been concerned about new ownership, team direction, what the players think and so on. Located close to two other minor league teams (Ft Worth Cats, in the same American Association division as the AirHogs, and the Frisco RoughRiders, the AA team for the Texas Rangers) and the Texas Rangers, current AL champs.
Shreveport-Bossier Captains – 1588 average attendance last year but league champions. We’ve been to the ballpark, it’s certainly no QTP.
So, if you own all three, where do you put your money?
You have a new ballclub in a town that already supports baseball. You have an existing ballclub in a crowded market. You have the league champions with low attendance.
My concern as an AirHogs fan is that a market saturated with baseball will fall low on the totem pole even if management lives here. I would think investing in two championship towns with limited entertainment options (do locals really gamble in Shreveport?) would provide a better return.
The AirHogs have a good fan base, the newest stadium of the three teams and a market that is larger than both the others combined. The market size is important for possible spectators, but I think it’s also important as a draw for players. Many of them have mentioned that Dallas-Ft Worth is preferable to many of the smaller markets in the American Association. If you’re going to toil away for low pay, best to have a place to go at night.
The AirHogs also have a lot of concern in the fan base about an ownership change, so the owners need to come press the flesh and assure season ticket holders (especially) that they know how to run a team in Dallas, not just Shreveport, and that the AirHogs will be independent of the rest of the teams in the fold.
Amarillo has a market that is used to baseball and the advantage of the “newness” of the team.
Shreveport has the league champions.
Then, the concern all fans must have – if a company owns three teams and one of them starts making a run at the championship, are the other teams going to “decide” to trade their best players to help the winning team? I know it happens all the time between managers even if the teams don’t have the same ownership, but I’m very concerned that it will be directed from the front office now.
This will be an interesting year.