Expansion Teams since 1977
After owning the Florida Marlins for five seasons and winning the World Series in 1997, Wayne Huizenga placed his team on the market for $165 million. Although home attendance had improved by 36 percent in its championship season, Huizenga claimed that the team needed a new retractable-roof stadium to break even or earn a profit. Without public financing of a new stadium the Marlins traded players to reduce salaries from $53 million in 1997 to $19 million in the 1998 season. As a result, in 1998 the Marlins ended the season 54-108, the worst performance ever for a defending champion and the poorest record in the NL since 1969. After investing over $200 million in the team and incurring operating losses exceeding $70 million between 1993 and 1997, Huizenga decided to sell the Marlins in 1999 for $150 million but retain his ownership of the NHL's Florida Panthers, Pro Player Stadium, and the Miami Dolphins. Even so, the Marlins have appreciated over 96 percent in value between 1993 and 1998. 1
In Chapter Two we identified and analyzed a combination of demographic, economic, and team-specific factors affecting expansion in professional baseball, football, and basketball. In doing so, we found that ten expansion teams joined MLB, six the NFL, two the AFL, fourteen the NBA, and eleven the ABA between 1950 and 1977. This chapter explores the ownership history, playing performance, home attendance, and estimated market value of expansion teams in the three sports since 1977. Furthermore, it analyzes the recent history of the former expansion teams relative to each other and to the league. Pursuing that goal, this chapter lists and compares the expansion teams in the three sports in winning percentage, attendance, and economic value. This information provides a better understanding of the operations and business aspects involved in professional sports.
Along the way, this chapter evaluates four important questions: Which expansion teams have realized the most and least success on the field and at the