SBD/Issue 204/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Rays To Maintain Payroll If Still In Race

Rays Owner Sternberg Proud Team Ranks
As "Most Affordable" In ESPN Study
Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said that the team "won't move to cut payroll this season as long as they are 'in the hunt' for a postseason berth." Sternberg: "As long as we're in the hunt, I don't see us, because of financial reasons, pulling back from that. Clearly, though, it's a multiyear process, and the money doesn't come out of thin air. And money spent this year and budgetary shortfalls from our end from a revenue standpoint lead toward future years being a little bit leaner. I won't say a lot leaner but certainly a little bit leaner, for starters." In St. Petersburg, Topkin & Smith noted Sternberg was "incredibly proud about ESPN ranking the Rays' fan experience as the 'most affordable' in all of major sports," and the Rays will "celebrate the ranking with 'Even More Affordable Night' on Aug. 19 against the Orioles," when the team will sell $0.50 hot dogs (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/11). Also, in St. Petersburg, Aaron Sharockman notes the Rays had "set a goal of matching the major-league average attendance," but the team has "fallen far below that during the season's first half." Attendance has "increased by about 2,500 fans per game from 2008," but the Rays "remain among the poorest drawing teams." Saturday and Sunday games at Tropicana Field "draw relatively well," but at Monday-Friday games "empty seats often outnumber filled ones" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/13).

NEEDED BOOST: In Phoenix, Nick Piecoro notes more than halfway through the D'Backs' home schedule, "attendance and revenues are down," but team execs said that "action by the club's ownership group earlier this year will prevent the losses from negatively affecting major-league payroll in coming years." D'Backs Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said that the club raised $50M "in a cash call to team investors earlier this year, a move that he said was designed as a safeguard against the slow economy." The team through Friday was averaging 25,437 fans per game at Chase Field, down 14.8% from the same period last season. D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said that the club's loss in projected revenues this year "could be about equal to" the $10M raised for '09, but it "appears the cash infusion might have helped prevent ownership from asking General Manager Josh Byrnes to slash payroll" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/13).

Twins Hoping To Land 2014 All-Star Game
At New Target Field
TWIN BIDDING: In St. Paul, Charley Walters reported the Twins have "commenced the formal application process with hopes of landing the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field." The Twins are "confident about their chances of securing the 2014 event, but don't expect a final decision for some time." A source said that the Royals' Kauffman Stadium is the "front-runner for the 2012 All-Star Game," while the Mets are the "likely host for the 2013 game" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/12). In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reported the Twins through 46 games had drawn 1,280,357 fans, or an average of 27,834 per game (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/12).

MAKING FANS BLUE: SI.com's Jon Heyman reported the Blue Jays "could still wind up keeping" P Roy Halladay, who has been mentioned in trade rumors. Blue Jays officials have suggested to other teams that they are "concerned about the fan backlash in Toronto, which apparently has been significant enough for them to take note" (SI.com, 7/10).

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