SBD/September 11, 2013/Media

Yankees Reportedly Close To Deal With WFAN, Ending Mets' 27-Year Run With Station

A reported deal with WFAN-AM will give the Yankees a new flagship station
The Yankees' new radio deal, when completed, will put them on WFAN-AM "for the next 10 years for at least" $15M a year, according to a source cited by Sandomir & Rohan of the N.Y. TIMES. WFAN "could also carry" MLS expansion club NYC FC, which is a partnership of the Yankees and EPL club Manchester City. The Yankees by moving to  CBS' "all-sports WFAN from all-news WCBS-AM after this season ... will bump the Mets from WFAN, ending an association between the team and the station that began with the station’s inception" in '87. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said it was "fairly accurate" that the team was leaving WFAN. He indicated that for "a while longer, Mets radio rights would be in limbo." Wilpon said that it would "probably take about six weeks to complete a deal with a new station." He added that the Mets "could be hurt if they moved to a station lacking a signal powerful enough to reach the geographic swath" of the N.Y. market. Former CBS Radio Chair & CEO Joel Hollander said that he "doubted the Mets would replace the Yankees at WCBS." The price tag of $15M or more "underscores the Yankees' greater advertiser and audience appeal -- and the desire by CBS Radio to keep them from leaving." WCBS this year is paying the Yankees about $14M, almost "double what WFAN is paying the Mets" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/11). In N.Y., Bob Raissman cites sources as saying that the Yankees-WFAN contract "would be for 10 years ... paying the Yankees between" $15-20M per year. This would give the Yankees the "most lucrative radio deal in baseball." The "final hurdle" was WFAN locking up NYC FC rights, which "is separate from the Yankee deal." It is a "three-year deal believed to be the highest radio contract for a MLS team" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/11).

VOICES CARRY: On Long Island, Neil Best notes all indications are that John Sterling "would remain" the Yankees' play-by-play man. Less certain is the "status of his partner, Suzyn Waldman, but if the Yankees give their blessing, they likely will continue an on-air partnership that began" in '05. Regardless of "where the Mets go, Howie Rose and Josh Lewin probably would remain on the broadcast team" (NEWSDAY, 9/11).

WILL RISK BE WORTH REWARD? The DAILY NEWS' Raissman wrote a 10-year deal is "quite an investment, a gamble/risk, on a product that’s going to need some fixing, a team with some major holes at a number of positions moving forward." The Yankees execs who negotiated this deal "must have been wearing golden fleeces." By the third year of this radio contract, "who knows what the Yankees will look like with the absence of franchise icons" such as SS Derek Jeter, and Ps Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. WFAN will be "hard-pressed to make money over the course of the contract" with a $15-20M per-year sum to cover. Raissman: "Just ask the suits at Boston’s WEEI who saw their station turned upside down by a 10-year deal with the Red Sox worth $18 million per." Raissman added, "If it is possible, expect to be hearing even more commercials packed in between pitches of Yankee radiocasts next season if the WFAN deal goes down" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/11).
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