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Discrimination and Demand: The Effect of International Players on Attendance in Major League Baseball

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This article tests the presence of demand-driven discrimination attributable to foreign-born players in Major League Baseball (MLB). We quantify the change in demand at MLB games given the number of foreign players on an MLB team. We further measure how matching market population demographics and team demographics affects demand. Methods.

We use regression analysis to estimate the effect on attendance of a change in the number of foreign players on a team. We then use these estimates to find the change in revenue for the team. Results.

The results show that the effect evolves over time. At the outset of the sample (1985), the net effect of an additional foreign-born player was a decrease in ticket demand. This effect diminished steadily until 1992, when the net effect became positive, peaking in 2000, and then slightly decreasing until the end of the sample (2005). The matching of team and population demographics was not found to be significant. Conclusions.

We discuss the implications of this result on league policy decisions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Illinois 2: University of Michigan

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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