NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Kansas City could be celebrating a World Series victory in the next few days, but true baseball lovers who move to Missouri's largest city will find that the community has only Major League Baseball's 19th-best fan base.
"Fans in Kansas City have been below average in terms of their financial support for the team," says Emory University professor Manish Tripathi, who ranked Major League Baseball franchises recently for the "quality" of their fans.
Tripathi and Mike Lewis, who teach marketing at Emory's Goizueta Business School and write a sports-business blog, studied 16 years of MLB ticket revenues as a yardstick for each team's fan loyalty.
The researchers estimated how much money franchises should have taken in on ticket sales from 1998 to 2013 after controlling for such variables as stadium capacity to win/loss records. Then, Tripathi and Lewis compared actual club performances with expected revenues to determine which have the "highest-quality" and "lowest-quality" fans.
Additionally, the Emory professors measured fan "personalities" by studying millions of Twitter tweets that MLB followers posted between 2011 and 2013. Using word-recognition software to generate a ratio of positive to negative tweets for each club, Tripathi and Lewis characterized teams' bonds with their fans as everything from a "Miserable Marriage" to "Happy But Volatile."
Surprisingly, neither of this year's World Series teams — the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants — performed particularly well in the professors' study. As noted above, the Royals ranked just 19th, while the Giants came in eighth place.
That's partly because the research only covers the 1998-2013 period, but Tripathi says it's also because "sometimes the teams with the most-loyal fans don't make the World Series. Neither team is in the top five for payroll this year [either]."
Look below to check out the five cities the professors found have the highest-quality fans, along with an estimate of how much the typical home in each locale will cost you. Dollar figures refer to September median asking prices on Realtor.com, the National Association of Realtors' official property-listing site.
Fifth-best city for baseball fans: St. Louis (Cardinals)
Plenty of St. Louis residents flock to see the Cardinals play — little surprise given that the team made the playoffs in 10 of the 16 seasons studied (including two World Series wins).
The Cards also have a long tradition of fielding legendary players, including Stan "The Man" Musial and Lou Brock.
"St. Louis fans continue to value [and] pay for a good quality product, and part of it is also linked to the strong history of the team," Tripathi says.
The professors also found that Cards supporters have a "Loving and Stable" relationship with their team, consistently posting mostly positive tweets.
If all of that has you ready to join Cardinal Nation, Realtor.com says a median St. Louis-area home lists for $168,000.
Fourth-best city for baseball fans: Philadelphia (Phillies)
There's plenty of brotherly love in Philadelphia for the Phillies, who have some of baseball's best fans even though the team needed 77 years to capture its first World Series championship.
The Phillies didn't win the Big Show until 1980 — and had just five playoff seasons during the Emory study's 16-year period, although that did include a second World Series win in 2008.
Nonetheless, Tripathi says the team enjoys huge ticket revenues relative to its record. "Phillies fans pay a premium for the [quality of the] product on the field," he says.
The franchise also enjoys a "Happy But Volatile" rapport with its fans, with supporters making mostly positive tweets about the team but occasionally shifting into negative mode.
Interested in becoming a Phillies Phan? Homes for sale there list for a median $234,900, according to Realtor.com.
Third-best city for baseball fans: Chicago (Cubs)
They haven't won a World Series in 106 years, but the Chicago Cubs still manage to have some of the Big League's greatest fans.
Tripathi thinks that's because the Cubs' home of Wrigley Field provides a great baseball atmosphere even if the franchise never manages to put together a World Series-winning team.
"Cubs fans pay really high prices for a relatively poor product," the professor says. "I believe the environment of Wrigley Field and the surrounding area has a lot to do with [that]."
Tripathi and Lewis also found that Cubs supporters have "Happy But Volatile" feelings toward their club, with some negative tweets mixed in with mostly positive feedback.
That said, it's apparently only Chicago's North Side that's a good place for baseball fans to move to. Tripathi and Lewis found that the South Side's Chicago White Sox have some of the MLB's worst fans, coming in 26th place in the study despite having a far better post-season record.
Tripathi says he and Lewis have often seen a "'two-teams-in-one-market phenomenon,' where one team extracts a lot more of a premium."
If you're ready to become a Bleachers Bum, Realtor.com says that a typical Chicago-area home lists for $229,000.
Second-best city for baseball fans: New York (Yankees)
New York — or at least the Bronx — is certainly the Big Apple for baseball lovers, with the Yankees boasting the MLB's second-best fans.
That's little surprise given that the Pinstripes made the playoffs in 14 of the 16 seasons that Tripathi and Lewis studied, including four World Series wins. And that doesn't even include the franchise's 23 pre-1998 World Series titles or the impact of guys named Ruth, Gehrig or Mantle (not to mention Jackson, Jeter or Rivera).
But it's worth noting that New York's great fan base refers only to Yankees supporters. Tripathi and Lewis found that the Queens-based Mets actually have baseball's second-worst fans.
The professors also found that even Yankees supporters have a "Miserable Marriage" with their team, posting lots of negatives tweets about the club.
If you still want to buy a home near The House That Ruth Built (or at least the 2008 stadium that replaced it), a median New York residence lists for $407,900 on Realtor.com.
Best city for baseball fans: Boston (Red Sox)
They waited 86 years for a World Series win, but Red Sox enthusiasts have enjoyed three championship seasons since then — which is good enough to give Boston baseball's No. 1 fan base.
"The Yankees have a rich history that helps them to be near the top, but our fan-equity measure is only looking at the last few years, where the Red Sox narrowly edge the [New York[," Tripathi says.
Not only did the Sox reverse the "Curse of the Bambino" to win the 2004 World Series, but the professor says the team has had plenty of "interesting personalities" on recent rosters, such as David "Big Papi" Ortiz.
Of course, you can't go 86 seasons between World Series wins and expect fans to love you all the time. The Emory study found that Sox supporters suffer from "Depression With a Bit of Mania," posting mostly negative tweets about their team with the occasion burst of positive ones thrown in.
Ready to join the Fenway Faithful? Realtor.com says you can expect to pay around $359,900 for a median-priced Boston-area home.
— By Jerry Kronenberg for MainStreet