When Cincinnati Became A Big Market

At this moment, it's not clear exactly how much money the Cincinnati Reds are committing to Joey Votto, or for how many years.

We know it's a lot, though. A lot of money, a lot of years. A lot.

Earlier Monday, when the reports of Votto's massive new contract began showing up, we also saw this:

Honestly, I have no idea why Votto would think that.

It's true that Cincinnati's got more people than Milwaukee. Significantly more people, just in terms of raw people. According to the 2010 U.S. census, Cincinnati's metropolitan area contains roughly 2.2 million people, while Milwaukee's has only 1.6 million.

Which hardly makes Cincinnati a population powerhouse; the Reds play in the 27th-most populous metropolitan area in the United States, and the fourth-least populous in Major League Baseball. Cleveland and Kansas City are just slightly smaller, with Milwaukee being the smallest by a lot.

But there are other ways to measure markets. Fan support, for example. Last year the Brewers drew 3.1 million fans to their 81 home games, fourth-best in the National League. Meanwhile, the Reds -- despite coming off a first-place season -- drew only 2.2 million, 10th in the league. With the Packers and the Brewers, the sports fans in Wisconsin have demonstrated with the wallets and their fannies that they will support their teams, population be damned.

The fans in southwestern Ohio and north-central Kentucky have not done the same. Which doesn't mean they won't. Maybe locking up Joey Votto for The Rest of Recorded Time will kickstart the local baseball team's attendance.

But to me, this just looks like more evidence that Major League Baseball's franchises, even those in the smallest of markets, are about to reap huge windfalls in local television revenues.

So why couldn't Milwaukee get Prince Fielder signed to a similar contract? My guess is the Brewers had the money, but simply didn't think Fielder was worth it. And my guess is also that they were right.

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