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San Antonio Steps to the Plate

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Two days after the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo, San Antonio up its ante with a stadium deal.  (I was going to do an Alamo theme then it occurred to me - I would be only one to get it.  Not exactly an intelligent tack to take.)

Bexar County has taken another step in efforts to lure the Florida Marlins to San Antonio -- offering to put up $200 million toward an estimated $300 million ballpark if voters approve extending a tax on hotel and car rentals.

Bexar is pronounced Bear, for those of you who didn't know, which maybe very few.

Anyway, given what I know about the area there is a good chance the tax extension would pass.  If the Marlins give the go ahead it will be put on the November ballot.

Even if it were to pass there are at least some questions about San Antonio that remain.

One:  Is the population large enough to sustain a professional baseball team?  The San Antonio metropolitan area is the 29 largest in population according to the Metropolitan Statistical Area current as of 1 November 2004.

It would be the second smallest metropolitan area ahead of only Milwaukee (36), of those with a major league baseball team.

Two:  Since everyone can't go the games live, what is the size of the television market?

It would be the smallest television market in the majors coming in at number 37.  The next smallest is Cincinnati at 34.

If the Marlins were to move there they would be moving into a very small market area.  To top it off it is less than 200 miles from Houston and 280 miles from Arlington (where the Rangers play).  At present San Antonio and possibly the Austin area, 80 miles away (38 MSA, 53 TV) would be on their own to support the team.  Both of the cities are presently Astros affiliates.  The Austin area houses the Houston Triple-A club.

San Antonio doesn't, to my knowledge, have a place to house the Marlins in the interim.  If the stadium deal was approved in November and a contractor selected almost immediately and with no overruns in construction, it would be 2008 before the stadium would be habitable.  Trust me, it might be approved in November but the rest won't happen.

The bottom line is this: I believe the area would be willing to take on the debt to have the team move there. Should they, no - would they, yes.  It comes down to: can the Marlins make a go of it there - I'm not sure they can.