Red Sox, Cardinals See Big Regional Support, Stay Competitive Despite Smaller Markets
The Cardinals and Red Sox begin World Series play tonight in "a matchup of two baseball-crazed cities," but also of "two of baseball's most distinctly regional franchises," according to Costa & Barbarisi of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Twenty-five percent of Red Sox season-ticket holders are "from outside Massachusetts, including a tiny fraction in New York, and 37% of all tickets are sold to patrons from out of state." The Cardinals "draw roughly 40% of their attendance from out-of-town visitors." Cardinals Chair & CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. said, "We use the term Cardinal Nation, which is for a reason. The outlying areas are very supportive." Costa & Barbarisi write that support is "a major reason both teams have consistently outperformed their market size over the last decade." Boston ranks 11th in population among metropolitan areas with MLB teams, yet the Red Sox "opened the season with baseball's fourth-highest payroll." St. Louis is MLB's 19th largest market, yet it "ranked 11th in payroll and second in attendance." Red Sox ownership "traces the explosion" of the team "as a regional and national franchise to the 1960s, and to Boston's status as a higher-education capital." When Fenway Sports Group bought the Red Sox in '02, it "immediately identified the outlying New England states as prime areas for growth." The Cardinals' roots in surrounding states such as Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas are "more residues of history than of recent design." The franchise for the first half of the 20th century was "the westernmost team in the majors and the southernmost." Cardinals games have been broadcast for decades on KMOX-AM, the "iconic St. Louis radio station that by the 1950s reached all of the Midwestern states and many remote, rural areas." MLB expansion has "shrunk the Cardinals' footprint to some degree, but it is still among the largest" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/23).
BACK ON TRACK: In Providence, Bill Reynolds wrote this season was about "changing the culture" of the Red Sox, "resurrecting the brand" and "moving forward." It was about "making all of us forget" about the previous two seasons. Reynolds: "So this season already has been an incredible success." Both the "buzz and the magic" are "back, and the drama all gone" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 10/22).