The baseball game long recognized as the first officially recorded baseball game in U.S. history took place on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey: the "New York Nine" defeated the Knickerbockers, 23–1, in four innings. As you can see, even though the game was played in New Jersey---neither of those teams bore Jersey in their name.
The NEW YORK Giants and the NEW YORK Jets both play in New Jersey. Colleges Rutgers and New Jersey (later known as Princeton) faced off in what is considered to be the first American football game ever played on Nov. 6, 1869. Yup, the game took place in New Brunswick, New Jersey, with an audience of about 100 on hand. Maybe not too much tailgating went on before that game.
Is it time for New Jersey to have our own Major League baseball team, and demand that if your football team plays in New Jersey, you bare the name "New Jersey" in your team name?
Recently, on a return flight to Newark Liberty International Airport, the pilot announced, “Welcome to New York.” Ouch!
Sitting between two of the largest cities and media markets in the country, there’s nothing we can do about our geography. That doesn’t mean we should tolerate any “junior varsity” status. New Jersey is a dynamic place with enormous upside potential.
We do need to be realistic about which battles to fight and how best to spend taxpayer dollars. Any threat to either the Giants or Jets will end badly for New Jersey, including an empty MetLife football stadium.
Certainly, New Jersey having its own major league baseball team would require taxpayer subsidies into the billions. We’ve got other priorities right now (ask any NJ Transit rider!). Moreover, no existing Yankee, Met or Phillies fans I know would change their allegiances.
All that is not to say we can’t compete with neighboring states in other sports. The New Jersey Devils are a perfect example. The Nets could have been, but that opportunity is now gone.
If we truly want to sustain teams like the Devils and possibly attract other professional sports franchises, we need vibrant well-populated cities, but that’s for a future column.
There are 138 professional sports franchises in the big five sports leagues located in the United States. While New Jersey has the New Jersey Devils, there are eight states that have no professional sports franchises while California has nineteen.
As private businesses, the owners of sports teams pay enormous sums to become owners and then need to generate similarly enormous revenues to make that investment pay off. For team owners, it’s nothing personal, it’s strictly business. But for fans, it’s not about business, It’s about team pride and a sense of community.
Regardless of the team name, professional sports franchises can be financial opportunities for host cities and states. A recent article published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analyzed the impact that Busch Stadium had on the local economy. They noted that “fans who attend games also pay for parking, eat in restaurants, and buy food and drink at the ballpark … generat[ing] revenue and jobs for the local community” and that “parking attendants, restaurant workers, and stadium workers spend their earnings, the money circulates again through the economy.” It estimated the economic impact of people attending St. Louis Cardinals home games in 2015 was $343.9 million. The economic impact in the Meadowlands is likely even greater.
I would like New Jersey to be even better recognized in the world of professional sports. But until another sports franchise recognizes the value of having the name New Jersey on their team jerseys, I am glad New Jersey is benefiting financially regardless of the names of the teams playing.