SBD/June 14, 2013/Franchises

Astros' Jim Crane Touches On TV Deal, Increasing Payroll During Radio Appearance

Crane thinks a deal with CSN Houston could come to fruition soon
Astros Owner Jim Crane Wednesday was in studio for an extended appearance on ESPN Radio 97.5 Houston's "The Rush," where he addressed several issues facing the team, including the status of talks with Time Warner about CSN Houston carriage and the team's paltry payroll this season. Crane said he is "optimistic that ... we'll get the games on here before the season ends." He added, "We're very focused on it. We work on it every day and … something I think will develop here within 30 days." Crane: "If we don’t work a deal here that's good for the team long term, it won’t make us as viable as the Rangers or Seattle, the deals that have been done there on the TV networks. We just want a deal that's fair to the team, that gives us a similar amount of resources to be able to run a payroll that's in that vicinity when we can spend that money effectively." The Astros entered their first season in the AL with a player payroll around $24M, and Crane noted the team "could have spent a lot more money" on payroll that may have "gotten us 10 or 12 more wins." Crane: "We were looking at the long term, how to rebuild this club properly from the bottom. Spending that money this year wouldn't have been done in an effective way." He added payroll will "probably move up significantly next year."

TALK TO THEM: The team last month hired Reid Ryan as President of Business Operations, and Crane said Ryan and GM Jeff Luhnow will be the "point people" for the organization. Noting he is not "one to look for the spotlight," Crane said, "I'm there to help them and give them the resources they need to run the business correctly on both sides. That's what I'll do. ... I'll be involved when I need to be involved." He did disclose he monitors what is said in the press about the Astros, and about him personally, in order to make sure facts are not twisted. Crane: "Certainly everyone is going to have their opinion, and I appreciate that. But I'm one that likes to see accurate information. ... You get a lot of situations where they get the information wrong, and then extend off of that. Once facts are not right, then they kind of get extended and can lead in the wrong direction. We try to make sure we get the press the right information."

HAVE A DRINK ON ME: The Astros' 23-44 record as of Friday morning is the worst in the AL, and a caller asked Crane about reducing the price of beer at Minute Maid Park amid the team's lack of on-field success. Crane replied, "I don't think we've raised anything since we've taken over. But certainly, if that will get more fans in the place, we would definitely be interested in getting the beer prices where everybody thought they were worth coming to the game." Crane said season-ticket prices were not raised prior to this season, but the team does utilize dynamic ticket pricing, as that keeps "scalpers out of the mix and generates some more revenue for the team." Crane: "I know it wasn't really received well, but it really doesn't affect the normal fans, per se" ("The Rush," ESPN Radio 97.5 Houston, 6/12).
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