IJSF Author Q&A: Phil Miller

Researchers trace the advance of a line of research through citation trails, a progression of published articles through time.  But each published article is like an iceberg: it’s just the visible tip of the research project, and most of the big, important stuff lies below, unobservable.  The IJSF blog is a useful way to expose some more of the iceberg, and can help us learn more about the space in between published papers, where the interesting part of the research process takes place.

Phil Miller is an associate professor in the Department of Economics at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  His research focuses on labor economics in sport, where he has published extensively on arbitration in sport, and on the economic  impact of sport.  He blogs at Market Power and The Sports Economist.  His paper “Facility Age and Ownership in Major American Team Sports Leagues: The Effect on Team Franchise Values” was published in IJSF4.3.

1. Where did you get the idea for this paper?

I had a paper published in the Journal of Sports Economics (in 2007) in which I examined the determinants of MLB franchise values published annually by Forbes.  One of the items I looked at was the effect of public ownership of playing facilities on team franchise values.  I found that MLB franchises that owned their playing facilities had, on average, higher estimated values than teams that did not own their facilities.  The paper that appears in the current IJSF extends my work in the 2007 JSE paper to the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL.

2. What were some of the challenges that you faced when working on this research?

A lack of time, the always-scarce productive resource, was the main thing that I had to deal with.  Fortunately, my college (the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Minnesota State University, Mankato) has a research reassignment program that gives faculty a one-class teaching load reduction in exchange for the completion of a research project.  That reassignment gave me the time to work on this project.

3. How does this paper fit in your research agenda?

It fits into my agenda in a couple of ways.  First, almost all of my previous publications had something to do with MLB and I wanted to branch out into studying other sports leagues.  Second, one of my ongoing interests is the relation between government and sports.  The effect of facility ownership on franchise values is a new angle of this branch of research that I wanted to keep exploring.

4. Describe a future research project that you would like to see that builds on your paper.

Well, any future project would certainly have to prominently cite my work, positively so of course.  OK., I’m kidding there.  But Forbes franchise value estimates are widely-reported figures that aren’t well understood by those outside of those who create them (i.e. the folks at Forbes).  I would be interested in papers that further explore the determinants of these values.  For instance, some have argued that these franchise value estimates are simple multiples of revenues.   Is this the case?


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