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YANKEES AGAINST GIVING REBATES TO MSG FOR REPLACEMENT GAMES
Published March 9, 1995
Despite MSG Network's "plea for financial relief if replacement Yankees play into the regular season," the team insists that it will not rebate a cent of the cable network's estimated $42M payment for the Yankees' TV rights. Richard Sandomir notes that by taking the same position with WABC-radio, which pays the team $5M annually, the Yankees will have a $47M fund for the season when gate, concession, parking and national TV revenues decline "precipitously while replacement players are used." Yankee General Counsel David Sussman, on MSG: "There's a clear agreement between the parties that we have no obligation to give refunds. There's a risk in every agreement." MSG's acting head Marty Brooks, noting the team cut its ticket prices 50%: "We were very encouraged when they reduced ticket prices, that they acknowledged the reduced value. This is a time bomb that can be defused any day, but it could set the tone for our future relationship. We intend to resolve this equitably." MSG and the Yankees are entering the seventh year of a 12-year $486M contract, by far the largest in baseball. Sandomir notes with ITT's pending takeover of MSG (ITT owns Cablevision Systems, parent of SportsChannel), the Yankees may have to negotiate their next local TV contract with one entity that controls both regional cable systems. The Mets and SportsChannel held talks on rights fees last month, "but tabled them" until a later date (N.Y. TIMES, 3/9).