Home base to home run – the impact of MLB team relocation on fan engagement
November 28th, 2023, Kineree Shah

Home base to home run – the impact of MLB team relocation on fan engagement

Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have sanctioned the move of the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas, Nevada underscoring the fluid nature of sports team residency. The relocation news resonates profoundly with MLB fans, as recent YouGov Surveys: Self-Serve data reveals intriguing insights into fan sentiments regarding geographical proximity and team loyalty.

More than half of MLB fans consider geographical closeness to their favorite team pivotal to their fan experience (56%). This sentiment reflects the traditional connection fans have with their local teams, which often serve as a source of civic pride and community engagement. On the flip side, two in five view proximity as a less critical factor, indicating a possible trend towards a more globalized fan base, less dependent on local ties (43%).

The likelihood of fans continuing their support after a team's relocation shows deeper differences, with almost half inclined to maintain their allegiance (49%), and about two-fifths saying it is unlikely that they would continue to support a team that had moved (37%). This split highlights the potential risks involved in relocating teams, with fan loyalty likely to be tested by such significant changes.

Furthermore, the potential impact on broader fan engagement with baseball is notable. While two in five fans anticipate no change in their engagement with the sport (40%), a combined 42% indicate a possible decrease (22%), shift to other teams (11%), or complete disengagement (9%). However, there is a silver lining, with 6% of fans predicting increased engagement, suggesting that a move could invigorate a new fan base and renew interest in some demographics.

This data offers a critical lens for sports brands and marketers underlining the nuanced relationship between team location, fan loyalty, and engagement. As the MLB landscape evolves, understanding these dynamics will be paramount for stakeholders aiming to navigate the complexities of fan allegiance and market to a diverse, and possibly transient, sports audience.

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Methodology: YouGov polled 1000 US adults who are MLB fans online on November 21, 2023. The survey was carried out through YouGov Surveys: Self-serve. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Self-Serve.