SBD/July 25, 2012/Franchises

Ichiro's International Status Likely To Bring Yankees Increased Ticket, Merchandise Sales

Ichiro's presence will likely mean "big money" for both the Yankees and MLB
Yankees LF Ichiro Suzuki is an "international phenomenon, and that means big money for both" the franchise and MLB, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. After the Yankees traded for Ichiro Monday, a team official said, "I think we'll have a ticket boost, there'll be a merchandise boost, that Ichiro jersey will sell. There'll be boosts all over the place." The official noted of the potential financial boon, "I think it's going to be a benefit, but this was strictly a baseball decision. It'll be a benefit, but it didn't enter into any of the thinking." However, the domestic and int'l revenue from merchandise sales and TV viewership "is shared amongst the 30 major league teams." So while the trade "is undeniably good for baseball, it's not the kind of windfall for New York that many think it is." The Yankees "do profit directly from local merchandise sales and from in-stadium television advertising." Japanese ad agency Dentsu "would not say specifically which Japanese companies are now vying for ad space with the Yankees, but said that they expect Japanese on-site advertising to grow significantly" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/25). Meanwhile, in Seattle, Karl Baker notes as Ichiro "departs Seattle, so will the Ichiro Effect." That is the "economic boost Seattle and the Mariners have received over the past 12 years from the thousands of Japanese tourists visiting the region to see their homegrown hero play at Safeco." Although this impact has "likely declined the past two years as Ichiro's success on the field has moderated, certain Seattle businesses will take one on the chin with his exit." Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle President Sam Kaplan said that the "attention Ichiro brings to Seattle can help local businesses in their search for financing." In addition to ticket sales, media deals and sports apparel "are significant revenue streams for any professional sports franchise." SportsBusiness Journal's Eric Fisher said that since Ichiro "became a Mariner -- and later when Hideki Matsui went to the Yankees -- Major League Baseball has been enjoying increased revenue from baseball enthusiasts in Japan." Fisher: "We've seen an uptick in the number of media deals in Japan over the last couple of years" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/25).
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