The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland A's are considering new locations in Silicon Valley, next door to the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. Reporter David Pollak asks a sensible question: "Would the Sharks prefer to remain Silicon Valley's only major pro sports team and not have the 49ers and A's relocate nearby?" Pollak discusses the issue with the Sharks CEO, various corporate interests, the director of the University of Oregon's Center for Sports Marketing, and Roger Noll, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford. Each person has an interesting perspective, but for Noll, the pitch is a fat one, and it's fair to say he nails it:
There's 35 years of literature on what determines revenue and attendance of sports teams, and you can never find that it's the effect of one sport on another," said Roger Noll, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford. "The only thing that affects ticket sales and local revenue of a sports team other than its own quality is whether there's another team in the same sport within 15 miles. The Sharks might lose a couple of suite sales, but they don't really need to worry.
After a digression talking with people who provide anecdotes confirming this point, the story returns to empirical evidence:
Surveys, Noll said, show that most fans have a favorite sport - and very few are intensive consumers for teams in other sports. "Season-ticket holders and people who buy tickets for multiple games typically don't have multiple sports they're interested in," Noll said.
"If the A's and 49ers are both within 15 miles of HP Pavilion," he predicted, "there will be some people who substitute for the Sharks. But it's going to be a small percentage, single-digit."