The Oklahoma City Thunder (previously the Seattle Supersonics) brings notoriety and awareness to the state and city of Oklahoma and the city of Oklahoma City but it is not just the awareness that makes the team a valuable addition to the city. The jobs that are generated directly and indirectly from having a professional sports team are incalculable. Despite what some pundits may say, there is no way to exactly calculate the benefits of having a professional sports team in the host city. Depending on the city and the cost to the city the benefits can far outweigh the cost.
Cities like Los Angeles are not likely to see the same benefit as the number of people traveling to Los Angeles and the exposure the city already gets through the media is far beyond what a professional sports franchise can truly have an impact on. The same cannot be said about cities like Oklahoma, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and the smallest of all franchise cities, Green Bay Wisconsin.
To these and other smaller cities in the country like them, a professional franchise can be all the difference in the world.
What would happen to Green Bay if the Packers were to pack up in the middle of the night as the Baltimore Colts did in 1984?
“Title Town” as the city is referred to by many would be renamed “Totaled Town” as the city of 104,000 would be stripped of its identity and would have lost its major source of income. Los Angeles and Green Bay are two opposite ends of the same spectrum while most cities fall somewhere in the middle. Los Angeles could not support the needed attendance while Green Bay may not be supported as a town without its attendance.
If sports didn’t bring in revenue to an area do we think that Alabama would continue fielding a perennial top ranked football team? Major Universities make a great deal of money on their football programs. Both in revenue from television and but also in recruiting new students to the school. Non-athletes see a football team on Saturday afternoon and see the prestige that the program brings to the school and recruiting new applicants for the coming semester becomes a great deal easier. Enough so that they can continue other programs that do not generate positive revenue. There is serious argument that many university sports would not exist without the large revenue drives such as football in the case of Alabama and basketball in the case of Duke and Kentucky.
Indeed one never fully realizes the impact of something until faced with the prospect of it no longer being there like the Baltimore Colts of 1984. There are tangibles and intangibles that make things work.
Great point as I was very young when the Colts left and I honestly thought the city of Baltimore was closing. I said I was young!