Of the all the potential landings spots for an MLB team in the US, none would hold sway over as many people and have access to as much money as New Jersey. New Jersey has nearly 9 million people. It is the richest state in the nation.
There is no question that a team located in northern New Jersey would have fans in the seats and a large-market television deal.
However, the very population and affluence that make New Jersey such a great location for a new team are the thing making New Jersey potentially cost prohibitive.
The reason for that is MLB assigns television territorial rights to its teams. Northern New Jersey is presently Yankees and Mets territory, southern New Jersey is Phillies Territory, and some areas in the middle are shared by all three.
Television money drives baseball and to get any of it, a New Jersey team would need to acquire the rights from existing teams. Just the cost to buy the rights alone could far exceed the cost to buy an existing team somewhere else.
And who could blame the existing teams? In general, adding supply (162 new baseball games on TV a year) to the market depresses prices (less TV money).
But this could be a synergy situation. Rather than depressing prices, the addition of new supply to the tristate market might increase demand keeping prices stable. This potential synergistic effect is the sports rivalry.
Studies abound showing how much rivalries increase both fan and player interest. Ticket sales increase for rivalry games. Ratings increase during rivalry games. The excitement around rivalries bring new fans into the fold and energize existing ones.
Could adding a new commuting-distance rival be enough to prevent any adverse effects to existing teams’ television deals? That answer would probably have to come from the networks and cable companies. If turn out the demand is there, perhaps the Yankees and Mets could be induced to allow a new kid on the block for a realistic sum.
Given that New Jersey is probably the only slam dunk MLB team destination in terms of potential fan support and revenue, one would think the MLB would help make the case to the owners.