Tampa Bay GDP, Personal Income, and the Small Market Blues

Catching up with regional news and notes:

A few weeks ago the Tampa Bay Business Journal detailed the latest annual metro GDP figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. According to the BEA, Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater has the 26th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among US regions with a GDP of $133 billion in 2015.

The following chart depicts all US cities with Major League Baseball and their Metro GDP ranking.


As you can see, all 29 US teams are represented among the top 37 metro areas. 11 teams are represented in the top 7 regions. Only Milwaukee is out of the top 30 regions.

Let’s combine this chart with the chart on Personal Income that I published last week. Although the Personal Income Chart did not include PIT, MIL, KC, CLE, CIN, I found those city’s 2014 personal income and multiplied it by the national average (+3.8%). Then I took the rankings for each city on GDP and Personal Income and averaged them. I also removed cities that do not have MLB.

I’m not sure if this of any real value, other than showing where the Tampa Bay economy is in regards to other major metro areas with Major League Baseball.


Again, I am not sure what value this chart has other than to show that Tampa Bay is a small market compared to other MLB markets. Any team that averages a 20 or below will probably need to be more resourceful in regards to revenue streams and payroll. They will probably also have problems with attendance at some point in their franchise history. They do not have the luxury of a robust economy in their region in personal income or GDP.

Smaller markets also do not have the population to make mistakes. They walk a fine line in regards to lowly identified and marginally identified fans (think fairweather or barely interested). If a team in a small market does poorly, going to their games is no longer a major topic for the community. It is no longer an event.

And no, I do not buy into the theory that you can win long-term fans with wiz-bang events. Bright shiny things only attract low to marginally identified fans. That’s great until something brighter and shinier comes along. It is a nuclear arms race to the bottom of short attention span hell.

But we will have a longer discussion on fanbase and commitment in a later post.

2 comments for “Tampa Bay GDP, Personal Income, and the Small Market Blues

  1. Muko
    October 3, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Interesting that the two bottom teams in the MLB attendance rankings this season, the Rays and Indians, also occupy the bottom five spots on both charts. More interesting still that they’re both (ostensibly) three-sport markets, with the towns below them only having two “major league” teams.

    Feel like this could be interpreted in two ways… optimistically, the Rays and Indians face fairly sizable, but not insurmountable, hurdles in their competition for the sports dollar in their respective markets.

    A more grim interpretation would posit that maybe, just maybe, the Tampa Bay and Cleveland metro areas simply aren’t capable of supporting three major league sports franchises.

    • Michael Lortz
      October 5, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      This is a great comment. Thanks for reading. Jacob Rosen at WaitingForNextYear.com has done a lot of work on the Indians attendance. He wrote an article that mirrored the Rays situation almost identically.
      Glad my charts here had some value.

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