Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Sports Fan Base of South Florida, Part 1

First in a series

In the past some have said that south Florida simply can’t support a Major League franchise. Some have debated whether a new ballpark for the Marlins should be in Miami-Dade or Broward. Some have said that Hispanics don’t support the team the way MLB had hoped they would. This series of posts is an exploration into these issues.

All of the data that I will be using in this analysis comes from the 2006 Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach Scarborough Release 2 Studies. These are demographic studies of consumers, which I have access to in my role as an advertising executive.

To set a baseline, I will present the adult (18 years of age or older) populations of the tri-county area as projected by Scarborough.

Adult Population
Miami-Dade County: 1,820,000
Broward County: 1,343,500
Palm Beach County: 1,002,800
Total for Tri-County: 4,166,300

Here’s what those population figures mean in terms of percentages of the total:

Marlin game attendance (unique visitors)

Now let’s take a look at number of unique adults that report attending Marlins games in the last year:

Miami-Dade County: 342,200
Broward County: 237,200
Palm Beach County: 114,100
Total for Tri-County: 693,500

This a good place to stop and explain something. The questionnaire for this survey asks which events the respondent attended in the last 12 months and provides a list of possible events that the respondent can check off if they attended. This does not take the number of games they attended into account, only whether or not they attended. Also it should be noted that we are talking only about adults here because that's a limitation of the study.

So here’s the percentage breakdown, by county, of respondents that report attending a game.

As you can see Miami-Dade and Broward represent a greater proportion of Marlin game attendees than their population would seem to indicate if Marlins game attendance were proportional to population.

Notable here is the fact that Miami-Dade comprises almost the same exact number of Marlin game attendees as Broward and Palm Beach counties combined.

The data indicates that the largest segment of Marlin game attendees is clearly in Dade-County and not Broward.

Next, a comparison of Marlin game attendees to those of other sports available in South Florida.


jonnylons said...

Great article, Henry. I would like to know where you got this data from but still, very compelling and I am looking forward to whatelse you are presenting on this issue. Great job!

Henry Gomez said...

It's in the post. The data comes from Scarborough research which is a company that does general consumer research and sells the results of their studies to advertisers.

The study has some limitations but it's pretty good as a directional indicator.

Anonymous said...

This does not take the number of games they attended into account, only whether or not they attended?

How silly is this study? You don't take into account HOW MANY TIMES they attended? Secondly, why not do a study based on the economics of Miami-Dade as opposed to those of Broward and Palm Beach counties? I'm sure you would have to conclude that the average per capita income is higher in either Broward or Palm Beach than in Miami-Dade, and that sports fans in those two counties would better support a team in the Miami area if the facility were closer to them. Demonstrable fact is that the Marlins are in a city with the lowest per capita income of any major league baseball team. Conclusion: If a South Florida baseball team is to survive they need to relocate to either Broward or Palm Beach countiues and secondly, they need a stadium with a retractable roof that you don't BAKE during a day game, and don't have to worry about bad weather for night games. They also need new ownership that actually KNOWS what they are doing and can afford to exist in today's financial climate. In 1997, ownership proved that bringing in some key free agents would win a World Championship. In 2003, the team won another World Series with players that were developed through the system for the most part, not by the Loria-Samson-Beinfest triumvirate, but by the John Henry-Dave Dombrowski-Jim Leyland era. Loria is trying to pull again what he did in Montreal and get major league baseball to bail him out while he runs off with money given to the Marlins by MLB from overspending on the part of rich teams like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, etc. A disgusted Florida Marlins fan, who might root for the players, but won't spend $1 to support this ownership. Lou Palmer, Wellington, FL

Henry Gomez said...


I don't have the number of times they attended because of the limitations of the data. If the survey doesn't ask the question that way, there's nothing I can do about it.

Secondly according to the census bureau's 2006 American Community Survey the median household income in Miami-Dade county is $41,237. In Broward the median is 50,499 certainly significantly higher and Palm beach is higher still at 51,677.

But if you know how medians work you know that it's the middle figure in a series of figures which means that 50% of the people in each county make more than the median. Miami-Dade county has 828,794 households. Compared to 682,105 for Broward and 504,518 for Palm Beach.

So while HHI is higher in the counties that you mention the larger populace in Miami-Dade makes it entirely possible that that there are more people with higher incomes in Miami dade. There's no way to know without looking how many households are in each quintile.

You're demonstrable fact is in fact wrong. The census bureau also reports that Philadelphia county's median HHI is $33,229, much lower than Miami-Dade's But nobody seriously considered putting a stadium in Bucks county where the income is more than double that even though many of the fans may come from there.

And there are reasons for that. One is that in your calculus you have to consider where people WORK as opposed to where the live since 2/3 of all baseball games are played on week nights. This is the reason the most recent set of ballparks have been built closer to the commercial centers of the communities they serve than the residential centers. Here's a demonstable fact for you. Traffic in the morning is heavier heading south from Broward into Dade and it's heavier in the evening heading north into Broward. That's because despite Broward's growth many Broward residents still work in Dade.

I used to live in broward and had season tickets for the Heat. I can tell you it's a much easier commute south to attend a game than when I worked in Miami beach trying to attend a Marlins game at Dolphins Stadium.

You also don't consider the fact the the stadium will be built wherever the money materializes. Broward county has flatly refused to put public funds toward a stadium. And perhaps it's morally right and perhaps not but you can't argue that the owner of the Marlins is competing against other owners, most of which have had the benefit of public funds to build all or part of their buildings. It's not just about "knowing" how to build a winner.

As for your allegation about the 2003 team being largely the result of Dombrowski and John Henry, I'll say that's not entirely true.

For example if you're a Marlins fan you know that what kick started the Marlins season were two events. Bringing up Dontrelle Willis and hiring Jack McKeon. Dontrelle was traded for during the 2002 season. Beinfest and Loria were already in charge. Obviously Beinfest and Loria made the decision to fire the manager and bring in McKeon. You'll remember the team even got fined for not interviewing minority candidates, so strong was their conviction that McKeon was the man for the job.

There were other moves as well. When Mike Lowell breaks his wrist in the last month, the team acquired Conine. It was a fortuitious move as Conine contributed greatly to the World Series win. You'll remember that his throw was perfect to Pudge to tag out J.T. Snow. That's just one example.

Also the closer that year was Ugueth Urbina who was acquired in a mid season trade.

I'm sorry Lou but there's no way the Marlins get a stadium in Palm Beach and it's unlikely that it will happen in Broward. Miami-Dade and the city of Miami in particular is the only place on the table right now. If you want to continue to have baseball in South Florida at all you're going to have to accept that the stadium isn't going to be 5 blocks from your house. Perhaps you should use your higher household income to put gas in your car and head south occasionally. It will still be cheaper than flying to Vegas or Portland to watch the Marlins.

Demonstrable fact: Beggars can't be choosers.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. The reason a lower percentage of adults from PBC attend compared to % of adults is that the travel distance is much more for PBC.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Hey pal, fuck you.

Obviously the attendance from Palm Beach is lower because of the distance. I never said otherwise, jackass. But if you put the stadium in palm beach then you'll get lower attendance from Miami Dade. And guess what come mierda. Miami-Dade's population is significantly larger than Palm Beach.