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April 18, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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Can Seattle support six pro-sports teams?

Tim Ellis, the scribe behind the real estate blog,, was intrigued by a recent question posed by King County Council members -- can our region support a new arena for two more major professional teams?

"Probably not," Ellis concludes after comparing Seattle with the rest of the 30 largest metro areas in the U.S. His analysis appears on his personal website.

If Seattle added NBA and NHL teams to its current roster of major professional teams (Mariners, Seahawks, Storm and Sounders) it would have six teams. (Ellis doesn't count the University of Washington, though it's a major draw -- especially with a new stadium on the way.)

Only five other markets have six or more teams: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Bay area. And each of those metro areas has at least 63 percent more people than Seattle.

Ellis also found that only one metro area (Denver) would have fewer people-per-team than Seattle, if we had six teams.

With six, the Seattle metro area would have 583,338 people per major team. We now have 875,007 people per team.

Ellis notes: "At 875,007 residents per local pro sports team, Seattle is already 25% below the 28-city average of 1,174,483. If we were to bring both NBA and NHL teams to our market we would shoot to a full 50% below the average." (Ellis refers to a "28-city average" instead of the 30 because he excludes Las Vegas, which has no teams, and the Inland Empire area of Southern California, which is also one of the 30 largest but doesn't have any teams, leading Ellis to lump it in with Los Angeles.)

Of course, there's more to a sophisticated analysis than just population. "Obviously a more detailed analysis would take into account incomes, recreational spending patterns, and other factors," Ellis writes. "That said, we're obviously not hurting for pro sports teams here in Seattle, relative to the size of our market."

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