SBD/October 1, 2012/Franchises

A's Not Seeing Huge Box Office Bump Despite Making Unexpected Playoff Run

A new ballpark could boost the Athletics' revenues by more than $100M annually
The A’s can clinch their first postseason appearance in six years tonight, but despite the on-field success this season the team ranks 27th in attendance, only “about 2,000 better than last season when they had a losing record,” according to CNBC’s Brian Shactman. A’s Owner Lew Wolff said, “We’ve had a little pickup in fan attendance, but pretty much on budget that we had assumed this year. ... It’s disappointing. It’s expected. That’s more my fault than the fans’ fault because I’ve got to provide an environment that generates revenue and is pleasant to come to.” Shactman noted it “begs the question whether they might have trouble selling out a playoff game.” Wolff replied, “Do I worry about it? No. Do I expect that we won’t? Possibly.” Shactman noted the A’s are “desperate” for a new ballpark because it would mean a “huge increase in revenue.” Wolff noted a new ballpark could mean $100M more in revenue annually. Shactman: “That would take Oakland from a small-budget, break-even franchise to a larger-budget profitable franchise. To Wolff, that probably means leaving Oakland” (“CNBC Sports Biz: Game On!,” NBC Sports Network, 9/28). ESPN’s Howard Bryant noted the A's, which have the lowest payroll in MLB at $46M, are 91-68, while the Red Sox and their $170M payroll are 69-90. Bryant: "I thought Bud Selig said the A’s couldn’t compete without a new stadium?” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN2, 9/30).

STILL HUNG UP ON BALLPARK: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Brian Costa noted the only thing that is “not going Oakland’s way in 2012 is its stadium plan.” The A’s “remain mired in a dispute” with the Giants over territorial rights, and the issue “remains unresolved” despite Selig putting together a committee to look into the situation three-and-a-half years ago. Wolff said, “I’m probably more patient than most people would be. I’m a deal-maker. I don’t like litigation. But my patience is running out a little bit.” Wolff estimated that it would take “at least three years to design and construct” a new ballpark from the time it was approved. He said that ’16 “is the soonest it could open” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/29).
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