Same city hosts both major- and minor-league teams in same sport. What's the point?

I know of three examples. Toronto is currently home to both the NHL Maple Leafs and the AHL Marlies. It was formerly (2003-04) home to both the Leafs and the AHL Roadrunners. Los Angeles was home to the NBA Lakers and Clippers as well as (2006-2010) the Development League team the D-Fenders.

I can understand how a big enough market can host two major-league teams, but how does it work when one team is minor-league? I suppose tickets are a lot cheaper, but even so I have to wonder how many attend the games and how much media attention they get. Since only one of my examples is current, I have to suspect it’s not an economically sustainable arrangement. Am I missing something?

Typically the minor league team has (a) cheaper tickets, (b) a more convenient (or just different) location, and © a more “family” or “fun” atmosphere.

I believe there are many cities with an Arena Football team and an NFL team. And I know it is not at all uncommon for minor league baseball to exist in the same market as pro teams (St. Louis has the River City Rascals in O’Fallon MO, for example).

I think the cheaper tickets are a big part of what makes that arrangement successful. The major leagues have, in many cases, priced themselves out of a casual day at the ballpark / stadium / arena for many middle-class fans.

BTW, Chicago is another example: they have the NHL Blackhawks, and the AHL Wolves. In addition, there are a number of minor-league baseball teams playing in the Chicago suburbs. In all of those cases, the minor-league teams position themselves as more affordable alternatives, particularly for families.

Several of the teams, such as the Wolves and the Kane County Cougars (which are the Royals’ farm team in the single-A Midwest League) have been quite successful, and have been around for a number of years (the Wolves started in '94, the Cougars in '91).

No, they don’t get the same level of media attention, but they honestly don’t need to. They aren’t trying to operate on a par with their major-league counterparts; as long as they have sufficient awareness to attract their niche audience, they’re doing just fine.

Well, to be honest, at times it was hard to tell whether you were watching the Clippers or the D-League team.

Philadelphia also had an NHL and AHL team up until last year, and they even played in the same arena. My sister and her husband were fans of the AHL team…said they could get much better seats for a lower price. As hockey is immensely improved by proximity to the action, I think that’s a good reason to attend the minor-league team’s games.

I believe every Canadian city with an NHL team has a minor team.

Simply put, they’re there because they capture a different market. It’s more or less the same reason a city will have both a Mercedes dealer and a Kia dealer. If you want to see hockey in Toronto, getting Leaf tickets is exceptionally hard and expensive; a crappy ticket runs $75 and for two people to go and have OK seats, you’re into hundreds of dollars.

It seems to me that this has become a more common thing in the last 20-25 years, as ticket prices (and all the rest) for major-league sports have become hugely expensive.

Kansas City has the Royals and the T-Bones. Jokes about which is the better team aside, KC is a geographically large enough team that there isn’t much competition. They both offer the same sport - but with a very different fan experience. Royals games won’t break the bank, but they’re not something that you’d casually decide to take the clan to for the afternoon.

Munch, isn’t the T-Bones’ market for Kansans who want to display local prode in KCKS over KCMO? (Similarly, St. Paul has a sense of rivalry with Minneapolis, and the minor league Saint Paul Saints draw pretty well.)

The Brooklyn Cyclones are an interesting case - they play very heavily off the legacy left behind by the Dodgers (and this is heavily promoted by the parent team, the Mets, who to a great degree identify themselves as the Dodgers’ heirs). The Staten Island Yankees draw well in their borough, because to get from Staten Island to the rest of New York is an expensive bridge toll or a heck of a long time on ferry and subway.

They aren’t really competitors. The indoor football leagues play during the spring and summer, while NFL games are fall/winter events. Arena leagues are intended to keep the arena in use when it isn’t basketball or hockey season.

Baseball is interesting because some of the minor league baseball teams are “independents”, meaning that they are not direct farm clubs of the major league teams. The River City Rascals sign their own players, for instance, while minor league clubs affiliated with the Cardinals typically have players assigned to them by the Cardinals.

Here in the Cleveland area we are blessed with a number of teams: the major league Indians (hold your jokes please), the Lake County (Eastlake OH) Captains, affiliated with the Indians in A Ball, the Akron Aeros affiliated with the Indians in AA ball, and the Lake Erie (Avon, Lorain County, Ohio) Crushers of the unaffiliated independent Frontier League.

True. I forgot about the timing of the AFL season. Thanks for the additional info.

OT: While looking up the Saint Paul Saints on Wikipedia in order to compose my post above, I also clicked on a link to the El Paso Diablos, and it had this to say about the Diablos’ former home stadium, colloquially referred to as the “Dudley Dome”:


There has been a growing trend among MLB and NHL teams to have minor league farm teams, if not in the same city as the parent club, at least in the same area. For example, the Seattle Mariners have their AAA team, the Tacoma Rainiers, and one of their A teams, the Everett AquaSox, only 30 miles away to the south and north respectively. I believe the purpose of placing the minor league teams nearby is to strengthen the overall fan base of the major and minor league clubs and to have the talent close by when the parent club needs to call a player up.

If you’re considering “a minor team” to be an AHL team, then that isn’t the case for Montreal, since as you know their AHL affiliate is the Bulldogs in Hamilton, Ontario (though they are playing a home game at the Bell Centre next week…can’t wait!) . If you’re considering a “minor team” to be Juniors or university, then yeah, there are teams in every Canadian NHL city.

NYC has the minor league teams for the both the Mets and the Yankees.

It’s much cheaper and the smaller stadium is more “intimate”. No real nosebleed sections.

Don’t forget the Atlanta Braves with their AAA team just over the line in Gwinnett Country. And the San Diego Padres AAA team will be in the suburb of Escondido as soon as they get a ballpark built.n Several other AAA clubs are in cities so close to the mothership as to be commutable, too (Pawtucket-Boston, Toledo-Detroit), Allentown-Philly too).

It isn’t just about having somebody available to call up immediately, without a couple of plane connections half a continent away. It’s also about the big club’s development people being able to drop in and see how the prospects are doing (without those same plane connections etc.).

St. Louis also has the Gateway Grizzlies (the team famous for creating the Krispy Kreme burger) just across the river in Sauget, IL.

And both the Rascals and the Grizzlies pitch their “product” to suburban families looking for a night out. Reasonable prices, a lot of promotions and stunts in a relaxed atmosphere. Almost like a picnic with a baseball game going on in the background.

For an analogy, sometimes you want to see a serious film at an art house, and sometimes you want to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight, dress up in costume, and throw toast at the screen.

For an an overseas POV.

London has 5 teams in the “major” (premier) league and another 6-7 in the leagues below.
Birmingham has 5 in the premier and another handful in the lower leagues as well.

So it can be economically viable. Part of this maybe due the possibility of the lower teams being promoted to the highest level (See Blackpool) and the trickling down of the transfer money to the lower leagues.

I don’t think that happens so much in the US does it?

The concept of a single transferable franchise per city is an alien concept to UK sportsfans. Witness the hoo-ha over a team moving 56 miles to the north.

No US pro league in any sport has promotion and relegation of teams. Players are promoted up from the minor leagues on a regular basis and can also be sent down.

Dundee FC and Dundee Utd FC (Scottish soccer clubs) both have their own stadiums and they’re literally just across the road from each other! Their stadiums are only a few yards away from each other.

At the moment Dundee Utd are in the top tier of Scottish football (Scottish Premier League) and Dundee are in the 2nd tier (Scottish 1st division), but also they have frequently throughout their history been in the same league. Recently thoguh Dundee have been less successful are currently in financial difficulties.