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The Indians' collapse this season "will hurt ticket sales for 2013," and is "devastating to the franchise, which is still trying to win back the confidence of the fans," according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Indians, who on Tuesday snapped an 11-game losing streak, "rank last in MLB average attendance at 20,321," which is "not enough to hit their projection of 1.7 million." Indians Chair & CEO Paul Dolan said, "The next few weeks will be very telling. But we understand the losing streak will have a negative effect on attendance for the remainder of the year. We had budgeted a substantial loss for this year. It is likely to be greater than we expected. We can handle it." On July 26, the day before the 11-game losing streak began, the team was within 3 1/2 games of first place in the AL Central. Dolan said, "That was probably the most disappointing stretch of baseball in our tenure (as owners). It was so dismal. It changed the entire season. We had an opportunity to make up some ground in attendance. We were set up for a drive to the playoffs." The team's payroll is $71M, which ranks 26th in the league. The "average MLB payroll" is $105M. When asked how the Indians are doing financially this season, Dolan said, "Not particularly good." He added, "Payroll decisions are off-season decisions and are dependent on a multitude of factors, many of them unknown to us today. Nonetheless, there is no expectation the payroll for next year will be substantially different from prior years." Dolan also said, "The franchise is not for sale." But he added that he was "open to 'minority investors,' but so far none have appeared" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/10).
In Atlanta, Tim Tucker cites a financial filing from Braves Owner Liberty Media as indicating that the team's revenue “increased and their player payroll declined in the first half of this year, compared to the same period a year ago. Liberty attributed the revenue increase to "greater attendance and a slightly higher price per ticket," and attributed the decrease in player compensation to "the movement of certain players in the off-season and those costs being recognized" in Q4 '11. The latter was an “obvious reference” to the trade of P Derek Lowe to the Indians, in which the Braves paid two-thirds of Lowe’s $15M contract. The Braves' revenue through June 30 was $102M, compared to $95M "at the same point last year” (AJC.com, 8/9).
NOT FEELING BLUE: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Robert MacLeod writes “about the only positive the Blue Jays can point to these days is their attendance figures at home.” Through 51 home games this season, the Blue Jays are averaging 27,442 fans, which is an “increase of 4,776 a game compared to the same number of home gates last season.” It is the “fifth highest jump” among MLB teams in ‘12. Blue Jays Senior VP/Business Operations Stephen Brooks said, “An increase of about 5,000 per game, I’ll take that.” MacLeod notes in the Blue Jays' last four home games “average attendance spiked at 37,963” (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/10).
COME TOGETHER: Golfer Phil Mickelson said of his role in the O'Malley group's purchase of the Padres, “It's exciting for me to be a part of a team that I've been a huge fan of since I was a kid. I'm really looking forward to kind of bringing them back together with the community. … The last few years, I think the fan base has [lost] a little bit of faith in the team and we’ll see if we can turn that ‘round.” Mickelson added, “I'm not involved in the day to day of it. … I'm a big believer if you get the right people you let them do their job and I am not the right person on the team, they are. But it's fun for me to be a part of it and see if I can help bring everybody together” (ESPN.com, 8/9).