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No, Dallas Isn’t a True ‘Baseball Town.’ But That Doesn’t Mean We Don’t Love Our Rangers

If you have any interest in sports at all, you likely heard elsewhere about former-Texas-Rangers/now-Los-Angeles-Angels-of-Anaheim player Josh Hamilton telling CBS 11′s Gina Miller on Sunday that Dallas isn’t “a true baseball town.”

Hamilton wasn’t saying anything that any reasonable person could disagree with, assuming any reasonable person was considering whether baseball or violence-punctuated-by-committee-meetings is first in the hearts of North Texas fans. But Grant Brisbee of SB Nation makes the point today that sports fandom isn’t a binary choice.

Why can’t a person await breathlessly the latest reports about Tony Romo’s valiant offseason struggles to ward off athlete’s foot, while also calling himself a true-blue (or red, depending on which color the team is wearing that day) Rangers fan?

Brisbee’s got some simple, compelling data that Dallas-Fort Worth supports the Rangers just about as well as any other baseball city in the country. Rangers fans were showing up fairly well even when the team was lousy:

Rangers attendance
2012: 3.5 million (2nd in AL)
2011: 2.9 million (5th)
2010: 2.5 million (5th)
2009: 2.2 million (8th)
2008: 1.9 million (11th)

The 2008 attendance came when the Rangers had finished under .500 in eight of the previous nine seasons, missing the playoffs every year. Actually, the Rangers had finished over .500 in just 15 of their 41 seasons in Texas to that point. Yet they still drew close to two million fans, which used to be something of an enviable benchmark. Once they started their recent run of success, the fans responded and made each of the 81 home games something of an event.

Is baseball bigger than football in Dallas-Ft. Worth? No. Is baseball in Dallas-Ft. Worth a thriving enterprise, even compared with every other market in the game? Unquestionably, yes. If I had to guess, I’d wager that there’s a little more sports-related crazy in the average Texas sports fan, but instead of being funneled toward a single sport, it’s distributed a little more evenly.

Now, a related question: Does Dallas ever have a prayer of becoming a true basketball town?

3 comments on “No, Dallas Isn’t a True ‘Baseball Town.’ But That Doesn’t Mean We Don’t Love Our Rangers

  1. There are few teams – not somewhat constrained by smaller parks (e.g. Fenway, PNC) – who wouldn’t have top 5 attendance numbers in a season after back-to-back league championships.

    Additionally, volume sold is only one part of the equation; the other side is price of the item being sold. The cost of a Rangers game in 2012 (measured by the Fan Cost Index) was 20th out of 30 teams. (The Angels too have had top 10 attendance numbers for most of the past decade… but have also done so thanks in part to having some of the lowest prices in MLB (26th in 2012).)

    “Dallas” (sic) isn’t a bad baseball town. But it’s not among the greats either. Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis… and several others are cities where baseball captures a bigger mindshare than it does in this region.

  2. I believe it’ll more than suffice to allow an astronomically off paraphrasing of Pontius Pilate to handle this one…….”What is the truth of a baseball town?”

  3. Dallas isn’t a baseball town because it doesn’t have a baseball team. There isn’t even one in Dallas County. And to me that is the point,–I’ve always liked baseball and I’d like to go more games. But I’m puzzled why I’d have great loyalty to a team which is a 45-minute white-knuckle drive from my house (in Dallas). I would support a Dallas team, but a “Texas” team is just too generic for me to get interested.