Re: Meanwhile in St. Louis
St. Louis may rank 18th in MSA, but there are some other factors at work:
* Of the 17 markets above it, one doesn't have a team (Riverside CA) and four have two teams.
* The San Jose MSA was split out from San Francisco-Oakland fairly recently, and with Sacramento also nearby, dividing it all two ways still results in the Giants and A's having bigger drawing areas than St. Louis.
* Baltimore ranks behind St. Louis, but the Orioles have been around so much longer than the Nationals and the cities are so close, you have to give Baltimore a slice of Washington's MSA for this purpose. Just splitting the combined Baltimore/Washington MSAs in half gives both greater population to draw from than St. Louis.
* Cleveland and Denver have also had MSA carve-outs in the last few years, making them look smaller than the overall area is.
* Tampa Bay's drawing power is greater than its MSA also, or it would be if they had the stadium in the right place. Bradenton, Lakeland, Sarasota, etc. are right next door.
If I didn't already know the history of the franchises and their fans, and was trying to predict success based solely on drawing area and population trends, I'd only consider three places to be in a clearly worse starting position than St. Louis: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. Cleveland, Denver and Tampa would be in the same group as St. Louis. San Diego and Minneapolis... ok, them too, they're only a little bigger and are also geographically isolated. Maybe Seattle except they have the whole Pacific-Rim thing working for them. Also, the #2 team in the smaller two-team markets (like Oakland or, at the moment, Washington) would be hanging around that group also.
Not all who wander are lost