SBD/Issue 14/Leagues & Governing Bodies

PBS Examines The Business Of Baseball During Two-Part Report

PBS Report Examines Marlins And Pirates, Who
Have Made Profits Despite Losing Records

For some MLB teams, "it pays to lose," thanks to the league's revenue-sharing plan, according to PBS' Susie Gharib during the second of a two-part series titled, "The Business of Baseball." PBS' Jeff Yastine, reporting from the construction site of the Marlins' new publicly financed ballpark, said, "The Marlins have a reputation for being tight-fisted. Player salaries are some of the lowest in the league. Attendance has been at or near the bottom as well. Yet, internal team documents leaked to the media last month showed some clubs, like the Marlins, are hitting home runs on their profit-and-loss statements." Yastine noted the Marlins earned $39M in operating income in '08, while the Pirates reported $22M despite 18 losing seasons in a row, figures that "were helped in large part by what's called revenue sharing." He continued, "In theory, revenue-sharing money is supposed to be used to sign up better on-the-field talent. ... But there's always been a suspicion that some teams don't want to use the money to sign up the next great power hitter and instead want to use the revenue-sharing cash to power their profits instead." Yastine noted some baseball observers "want to do away with revenue-sharing, calling it the equivalent of team welfare" ("Nightly Business Report," PBS, 9/29). PBS' Gharib on Tuesday said baseball has "run into the roadblock of the economic meltdown and baseball is being battered." PBS' Yastine: "It raises a question: Has baseball finally hit the wall when it comes to the affordability of games? Apparently the answer is yes because when this year's season started five Major League teams actually dropped their ticket prices and in many venues, the cost of food, even parking, declined as well." Florida Atlantic Univ. sports management professor Jim Riordan noted some teams are using dynamic pricing for tickets, which "takes into account a lot of things, not only including the statistics of the current teams, but the weather, the time of year, where the teams are in the standings, the day of the week" ("NBR," PBS, 9/28).

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