A local real estate blogger and number cruncher has looked into whether Seattle could support six professional sports teams if NBA and NHL franchises moved to Seattle. The city already has four professional teams in the Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders and Storm.
Tim Ellis did the calculations and found that when total population and median income are taken into account, Seattle with six teams would be out of line with the rest of the country.
“It would put us on track with Washington D.C. and they have 63 percent more population than we do,” said Ellis.
Ellis concluded that Seattle could support five teams, but no other city its size has six pro teams. Also, theoretically, fans in Seattle would not have the income to keep the seats full all year.
Ellis says on his blog that he's "neither a sports fan nor a sports hater," but that he saw quotes from councilmembers asking whether the city could support six teams, so he decided to crunch the numbers.
“I didn’t see anyone else doing this, so I thought I’d give it a shot,” said Ellis. “It only took me an hour or so.”
Ellis found that “at 875,007 residents per local pro sports team, Seattle is already 25 percent below the 28-city average of 1,174,483. If we were to bring both NBA and NHL teams to our market we would shoot to a full 50 percent below the average.”
You can read Ellis’ study here, which includes charts comparing the number of sports teams to personal income, but here’s a basic breakdown:
- Seattle (today): 4 teams; population per team = 875,007; personal income per team = $44,021
- Seattle (proposed): 6 teams; population per team = 583,338; personal income per team = $29,348
- Washington, DC: 6 teams; population per team = 950,658; personal income per team = $53,923
Other cities currently with 5 teams
- Denver: population per team = 519,901; personal income per team = $24,380
- Minneapolis: population per team = 663,697; personal income per team = $30,896
- Phoenix: population per team = 852,447; personal income per team = $30,562 (There’s been talk Phoenix may lose its NHL team, possibly to Seattle)
- Boston: population per team = 918,222; personal income per team = $50,693
- Philadelphia: population per team = 1,198,483; personal income per team = $56,303
- Dallas/Fort Worth: population per team = 1,305,310; personal income per team = $55,503
Other cities with more than six teams
- San Francisco Bay Area: 7 teams; population per team = 627,291; personal income per team = $53,464
- Chicago: 7 teams; population per team = 1,367,822; personal income per team = $62,202
- Los Angeles & Inland Empire: 9 teams; population per team = 1,916,644; personal income per team = $76,791
- New York: 11 teams; population per team = 1,728,718; personal income per team = $93,467
Of particular interest to Seattle NBA fans is Sacramento with a population of 2.1 million and an average personal income of $86,943. It has only one pro sports team in the Sacramento Kings – the team rumored as most likely to move to Seattle if an arena is built here. The city also had the Monarchs of the WNBA, but the team folded in 2009.
Some downtown businesses are excited about the prospect of more potential customers walking by if the arena is built.
Sports Den owner Rick Blohm says business was better when the Sonics were in town, but he admits it may be tough to fill the stands all year if there are six pro team. He says he's heard that hockey fans from Canada may fill up the stands if an NHL team moved to Seattle.
A joint, public meeting of the Seattle City and King County councils to discuss the arena Memorandum of Understanding is scheduled Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Click here for more information.