Ken Medlin

Packers crush the "Small Market Myth"

Posted February 7, 2011

There was something different about Super Bowl XLV, and the Triangle should take notice.

It wasn’t that the game was being played in the Cowboys' new stadium, or that 111 million people watched it on television. And it wasn’t that the two teams involved are among the most storied franchises in professional sports.

No, the nugget of information that boggles my mind is this: The Super Bowl champions are based in a city smaller than Cary.

Seriously, Green Bay’s population is listed at 101,412, while Cary’s checks in at a much more robust 137,483.

Obviously, the NFL's revenue-sharing business model makes it possible for a truly small-market franchise to flourish. But it does make you wonder...

How about expanding WakeMed Soccer Park a bit? I mean, if Green Bay can do it... Come on, Cary. Get to work!

On a much more serious note, the conventional wisdom has always been that Raleigh will never get an NFL team because: 1) The area's too small and, 2) The Panthers are right next door.

Yet, the Packers' success in the nation's 71st-largest television market crushes the "small market" myth. By comparison, the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville TV market is now ranked #25 by Nielsen. That's bigger than other, seemingly-larger markets with multiple pro sports teams -- Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Nashville to name a few. So scratch the "too-small" problem off the Triangle's list.

So what about proximity? We're waaaaaaay to close to Charlotte, right? Well... A quick check with our friend Mapquest shows the shortest route from Raleigh to Charlotte as 2 hours, 51 minutes, or 140 miles.  (The US 64-NC 49 route is shorter "as the crow flies," but I-40/I-85 rates quicker on the clock. I always take the Interstates, but that's me...)

The distance from Green Bay to its nearest NFL neighbor, Chicago, checks in at 2:48, or 155 miles. Fifteen miles would be a big difference if we're using the old "horseshoes and hand grenades" analogy, but for this discussion those fifteen miles might as well equal zero.

The point is, the old arguments no longer hold water. Raleigh's not "too small" a market, and it's not "too close" to Charlotte for an NFL franchise. In the end, there are other reasons that will prevent the NFL from landing in our back yard. Simply put, there are other markets ahead of us in that line id the NFL ever does decide to expand again: LA and Portland are bigger, San Antonio already has a stadium, and there's always Toronto, London and Mexico City if the NFL wants to go International.

But hey, we can always dream. Right?

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  • wallhokievt94 Feb 8, 8:12 p.m.

    It's called Tradition. It doesn't matter. These people live for the Packers. That's their own identity.

  • bigoldbillybob Feb 8, 11:27 a.m.

    Wait a minute... NC can't really support one NFL franchise and you're going to argue that it could support two? Ha!

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