SBD/April 13, 2011/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Rangers Suing Hicks Over Parking Agreement

In Ft. Worth, Sandra Baker reports the Rangers Monday filed a lawsuit in Tarrant County against former Owner Tom Hicks, saying that he "broke an agreement governing parking at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington." The Rangers in the lawsuit ask a state judge to "stop Hicks from 'price gouging' fans when the team returns for its next homestand" beginning Monday against the Angels. The lawsuit was filed against Ballpark Real Estate L.P., a Hicks entity, and that firm yesterday said that it will "provide parking for the games 'with absolutely no disruptions' while the two sides continue to work out a deal" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/13).

WHERE IT ALL COMES FROM: Reds COO Phil Castellini said that the team gets "about half" of its revenue "from leaguewide revenue sharing, involving things like TV dollars and online sales." In Cincinnati, Steve Watkins reported the Reds generate "the rest locally," and "much of the local revenue is fairly stable, such as TV dollars." But tickets "can fluctuate wildly," and Castellini said, "Our biggest opportunity is to grow ticket revenue." The Reds are projecting an attendance increase of around 10% this season from 2 million last year to "2.2 million to 2.3 million." Castellini added that the team's season-ticket base is "just more than 11,000" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/12).

MONEY DRIES UP: In K.C., Sam Mellinger noted a "closer examination" of Royals Owner David Glass' "financial stewardship reveals just how low the Royals had sunk." The Royals "starting in the winter after the 2006 season" gave out the AL Central's "biggest free-agent contracts two years in a row." In '09, they "played with a franchise-record payroll approaching" $75M. That same year a "minor-league affiliate was added," and 11 front-office positions were "created in the first six months of the year." The Royals hired GM Dayton Moore in '06, and Glass "allowed Moore to create 17 new baseball operations positions in his first three years on the job, and budgeted enough to hire people with championship experience to fill most of those roles." But the Royals opened this season with a $35M payroll, "by far the smallest in baseball and the franchise's lowest since 2001." Glass said that he is "committed to fielding a winner," but Mellinger wrote it is "clear he won't do so at all costs." Mellinger: "Now, after more than a decade, the organization might finally be building toward a promising future. The catch? That future is predicated on the Royals' record crop of minor-league prospects making it to Kansas City and then staying here on long-term contracts" (K.C. STAR, 4/10).

DON'T BLAME THE GM: In Houston, Richard Justice noted the Astros "drew the second-smallest crowd in the history of Minute Maid Park" for their game Monday against the Cubs and are an NL-worst 3-8 to start the season. But "regardless of what you think about the job" GM Ed Wade "has done, he was dealt cards as difficult as any GM in baseball." Justice: "He has done what he did in Philly. That is, he has begun rebuilding the Astros from the ground up and putting an organizational structure in place that will last." Owner Drayton McLane is looking to sell the franchise, and Justice wrote, "I'm guessing the new owner will come in, see that Ed's not popular with fans and fire him without regard for the good work Ed has done or for the situation he inherited." Justice: "The Astros didn't get bad overnight. ... They got bad because dozens of mistakes were made in the draft, because Drayton refused to spend money in critical areas. Drayton was unwilling to admit the club needed rebuilding and so he kept looking for temporary [fixes]" (CHRON.com, 4/12).
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