SBD/September 20, 2011/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Indians See Attendance Boost After Unexpected Success In '11

In Ohio, Sheldon Ocker noted it is "too early to know whether the Indians will expand their payroll from this year's $49 million, but the Tribe will finish the year with an increase in attendance of more than 400,000." Indians GM Chris Antonetti said Saturday, "Having more fan support puts us in a better position. I don't have a sense of it (next year's budget) yet. I'll have a much better sense in a few weeks." But he added, "If we were to bring the same team back -- we have eight or nine arbitration-eligible players plus others getting raises -- it would be significantly more expensive than this year" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 9/18).

APPROVAL PENDING: In Houston, Richard Justice writes there is "still a chance" Astros outgoing Owner Drayton McLane will "wear down the commissioner and convince him to allow" prospective Owner Jim Crane's deal to go through. But those chances "diminish by the day, and if it doesn't happen this week, it probably will be [on] hold until after the World Series." By that time, Crane's "contract with McLane will be closing in on its November 30th expiration date." MLB sources have said that the deal "could still be approved, and everyone will ride happily into the sunset." Justice: "But there's a good chance it won't. ... McLane's problem is that if he has to go find another buyer, he may not be able to snag one willing to pay $680 million. That realization may be why he's lobbying hard for [Commissioner Bud] Selig to okay the deal" (CHRON.com, 9/20).

CROSSTOWN BUYER: In N.Y., David Waldstein reports Glencore Int'l Managing Dir Ray Bartoszek, who in the spring engaged in talks to buy a minority share of the Mets, has "emerged as the newest limited partner with the Yankees, buying a share of the team from another limited partner." Bartoszek and the Yankees "would not say how much his share represents, but he becomes one of about 30 partners with the team." Negotiations between the team and Bartoszek "began in June and were completed Friday" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). On Long Island, Steven Marcus notes Bartoszek "identified himself as the second-place finisher to hedge fund manager David Einhorn in the proposed partial sale of the Mets." Negotiations with Einhorn "on a proposed $200-million transaction fell through this month" (NEWSDAY, 9/20).

NEED SOME SUNSHINE: In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote the "bottom line appears to be all that is stopping the Rays," and by now, it "should be apparent that baseball and Florida do not go well together." Cafardo: "There's a reason the two Florida teams have the two worst attendances in baseball. ... How much more can Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg stretch that payroll? Sure, attendance is low, but the money from revenue-sharing and TV is pretty decent. Could their $45 million budget be stretched to $55 million to get a big-time hitter, even if it means less of a profit? Only their accountants know for sure" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/19).

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