While there are numerous factors that go into how many professional sports teams a city can support, maybe the biggest factor is market size and how that will impact both attendance and television ratings.
The chart below is a look at the 41 U.S. television markets that have at least one team in one of the four major North American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL). Market sizes are based on Nielsen data for the 2013-14 television season (cont. below)…
Not surprisingly, as the market size increases, the number of pro teams in that city increases, culminating with the New York area, which is home to nine pro sports teams. However, we also see a number of cities both well-above, and well-below the curve suggesting they either have too many or too few sports teams.
Orlando, with a market size of 1.5 million, is the largest city with just one pro sports team and is larger than 13 cities that have more than one team. At the other end of the spectrum, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cleveland all have three pro sports teams despite a market sizes that are all below 1.5 million.
Using this data, we can calculate the ideal number of pro sports teams for each market if market size were the only factor (see table below).
The city that is most underrepresented is Los Angeles with 1.6 fewer teams than the size of their market would suggest. Five other cities (Orlando, Sacramento, Portland, Raleigh, Seattle) are at least one team short of ideal.
The San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose market is the most over-saturated sports market with 2.1 more teams than ideal. Six other cities (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver) have at least one more team than their size suggests…
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