One ongoing certainty in America is that the population never stops shifting. And where people go, so do sports teams.
Good news for Las Vegas, Portland and Sacramento. Those growing towns, among others, are likely landing spots for the next wave of expansion and franchise shifting around the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.
Housing affordability has people migrating inland from the West Coast to central California and Nevada and north to Oregon, according to urban expert Wendell Cox, who runs Demographia.com, which tracks population shift. The trend will continue once this recession ends.
"People realized they could cash out in L.A. and scale down to a smaller house in Las Vegas, while socking away a nice retirement fund," he says. So don't be shocked to see Vegas or Sacramento get one of the Bay Area's two NFL teams, if politicians in either of those towns are willing outdo their Oakland or San Francisco counterparts on a new stadium. The San Francisco 49ers' plans for a Santa Clara venue seem to be on hold.
In Pictures: America's Next Sports Cities
The greater Los Angeles area is still growing thanks to inward migration to San Bernardino and Riverside, Cox notes. For years, the NFL has been looking at filling the glaring hole created by the Rams, who bolted to St. Louis for a sweet stadium deal in 1995. Expect that to happen before long if an ownership group can get a modern stadium built.
Adding up the national numbers shows that the big-league U.S. sports markets hold 152.7 million people watching 113 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams, setting a standard of just over 1.3 million people per team. Household incomes and other demographic factors (age, educational levels) also play a role in a market's viability to support big-time sports, but to a lesser degree. More than anything else, it's about having enough eyeballs watching the action, whether on television or at the arena.
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