SBD/Issue 51/Leagues & Governing Bodies

ESPN Analyzes Finances Of MLB Revenue-Sharing Program

MLB does not want fans to know "exactly how many dollars each team takes in from a humongous pot that includes revenue sharing, TV-radio money, merchandising, sponsorships, etc.," but an analysis of MLB's finances provides a "pretty fair idea," according to Jayson Stark of At least 10 teams collected $90M-plus during the '09 season "before they opened their ticket windows, let one car into their parking lots or sold one slice of pizza." Each team earned just over $30M from MLB's central fund if you deduct the $10M in "pension and operations fees, or just over" $40M if you do not. MLB shared $400M in revenue this past season, and the "five neediest teams -- which we believe to be the Marlins, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays and Royals" -- each received an average of around $35M, which still leaves about $200M for the "rest of the 'payees' to divvy up." Stark noted 29 of the 30 teams earn at least $15M annually in "local broadcast money, and no team" earns under $12M. So each team last season pulled in at least $80M without counting ticket sales. However, there were at least 12 teams, "depending on how you define 'total payroll,' that aren't spending that same number" on payroll for their major-league roster. This discrepancy comes at a "time when the relationship between owners and players seems to be growing more contentious than it has been in years." Stark suggests MLB should "impose the same sort of tax on teams with payrolls below some minimum threshold, exactly the way baseball taxes teams like the Yankees that spend over the maximum threshold" (, 11/19).

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