SBD/Issue 152/Franchises

Yankees' Levine Fires Back At Garber After Empty Seats Comment

Levine Describes Garber's Discussion
Of Yankees' Attendance As A Joke
A day after MLS Commissioner Don Garber commented on the empty seats at the new Yankee Stadium, Yankees President Randy Levine “blasted back,” according to the AP. Levine: “Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke. We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets [MLS] into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously.” Levine added, “Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league.” Speaking Thursday to the APSE, Garber said of Yankee Stadium, “It’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty.” After being told of Levine’s remarks, Garber said through an MLS spokesperson, “When I mentioned the New York Yankees [Thursday], my comments were part of a larger assertion that all businesses -- even the most successful sports entities -- are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn. The Yankees are one of the world’s strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing” (AP, 4/24).

TOUGH TIMES ALL AROUND: In New York, Peter Abraham wrote the economy is “having an impact on every franchise in some fashion as corporate sponsors have fled, television ratings are down and seats are going empty.” Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $181M deal in December, said, “It’s a tough time. The players are out their working their tails off and hopefully the fans will continue to support us. Unfortunately, if there’s no disposable income, they’re not going to come. Let’s just hope that changes soon” (Westchester JOURNAL NEWS, 4/26). Baseball HOFer Cal Ripken Jr. said, “I ... applaud what many major league teams are doing by running promotional night[s] that make going to a ball game cost about the same as going to a movie” (Washington EXAMINER, 4/26).

PIRATES' TREASURE: In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel wrote despite “small crowds for three rain-soaked games earlier this week, the Pirates’ home attendance this season is running ahead of last year’s pace.” Through the first nine games at the 38,362-seat PNC Park, the team is averaging 17,059 fans -- a “jump of almost 19[%] (2,721 fans per game) compared to the same point last year” (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/25).

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