Pawtucket/Providence market third in minor ratings
PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler, left, and team president Mike Tamburro have plenty to smile about with their team in first place.
Street & Smithâs SportsBusiness Journal publication has issued its annual Top 10 ranking of minor league markets in the U.S.
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The Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. market in central Pennsylvania earned top honors for the second year in a row, according to SBJ Research Director David Broughton, who researched and wrote the article. San Bernadino, Calif. finished second with the Pawtucket/Providence area coming in a solid third.
Hereâs the top 10 list:
1) Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa.
2) San Bernardino County, Calif.
3) Providence-Pawtucket, R.I.
4) Reading, Pa.
5) Portland, Maine
6) Syracuse, N.Y.
7) Charleston, S.C.
8) Modesto, Calif.
9) Idaho Falls, Idaho
10) Spokane, Wash.
Hershey-Harrisburg is home to the Washington Nationalsâ Class AA minor league baseball affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators, as well as the American Hockey Leagueâs Hershey Bears, a long-time AHL franchise which owns a proud tradition and history.
San Bernadino boasts three minor league baseball franchises and one hockey squad.
Pawtucket/Providence, of course, is home to the Pawtucket Red Sox and the AHLâs Providence Bruins.
Broughton makes a good case for his selection of Hershey-Harrisburg in his article. In a subsequent email exchange, he was asked about his views on the Pawtucket/Providence minor league market.
âMore than any other market in our study, Providence/Pawtucket benefits from proximity to the major league parent club,â Broughton said in an email from his office down in North Carolina. âBoston Red Sox fans know Fenway Park is always sold out, so the drive to Pawtucket and the lure of cheaper tickets, an actual parking spot, and a pretty good chance at seeing a current or future big league players helps keep attendance strong.
âAnd with the Boston Bruinsâ recent success, the same holds true (for hockey),â Broughton added.
âAlso helping boost its ranking is the marketâs overall attendance has gone up in the past five years, despite a flat population growth and persistent unemployment rate.â
Here is Broughtonâs story analysis of the Pawtucket/Providence market:
-- Teams (first season): International League (AAA) Pawtucket Red Sox (1970), AHL Providence Bruins (1992)
-- Venues (year opened): McCoy Stadium (1942; renovated 1999), Dunkinâ Donuts Center (1972; renovated 2008)
âThe Providence-Pawtucket market is the wealthiest market among our projectâs top 10, with a median household income of $55,652 (11 percent higher than the U.S. median), and its 1.6 million residents is second only to San Bernardino among the top 10. Yet confronted with nearly three years of double-digit unemployment (10.4 percent as of June) and a stagnant population, the marketâs two minor league clubs have combined to consistently draw roughly 900,000 fans annually to their games. Thatâs about 8,000 fans per game on average. Itâs that strength at the gate despite the economic challenges that sprung the market from No. 37 in the rankings in 2009 to No. 3 this year.â
The link to Broughtonâs story: Journal/Issues/2011/08/15/Research-and-Ratings/MinorLeagueMkts-main.aspx