Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grand Junction Rockies

Every year I analyze the movement of minor league baseball teams from one city to another (past analyses). These analyses are based on a paper I published a few years ago in the International Journal of Sport Finance, "Called Up to the Big Leagues: An Examination of the Factors Affecting the Location of Minor League Baseball Teams". For a short description of the model see this post from 2009. One caveat to all of these analyses is that the data for the study comes from 2003 and may be out of date.

The Rockies Short-Season A affiliate in the Pioneer League is moving from Casper, WY to Grand Junction, CO for the upcoming season. By my analysis moving away from Casper makes sense. It was not one of the ten least likely cities to have any baseball team, but it was just above those cities. My research found that Grand Junction would have been more likely to have a minor league baseball team, but neither was particularly likely (15% for Grand Junction vs. 9% for Casper). Grand Junction is almost twice as big as Casper, but the per capita income is higher in Casper. The higher population makes it a much more attractive market, but the income mitigates that effect slightly. Grand Junction has also experienced fairly rapid population growth in the last decade, so the percentage might be understating its appeal.

Grand Junction is in Colorado and they are affiliated with the Rockies so there may be some positive aspect to that. However, Wyoming is also in the Rockies' "sphere of influence" and Grand Junction is only 50 miles closer to Denver than Casper.

Grand Junction does have a fairly low probability of having a team, and I had it third on the list of potential markets in the current geographic scope of the Pioneer League (Northern Rocky Mountain States) behind Fort Collins and Greely, CO. There also seem to have been a couple of less desirable markets than Casper that still have their teams (Helena and Great Falls, MT). However, given all the evidence, this is pretty close to an example of a move that would have been predicted by my model.

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