SBD/September 23, 2013/Franchises

Blue Jays See Biggest Attendance Increase In Baseball, Look To Fix On-Field Struggles

A boost at the gate could lead to a higher payroll for the Blue Jays
Blue Jays attendance at Rogers Centre is "expected to broach 2.5 million" in '13, representing the "largest year-over-year increase in baseball," according to Tom Maloney of the GLOBE & MAIL. A "surge of fans from the young-adult demographic brought strong walk-up numbers and emotional energy to a stadium reputed, generously, as staid." The challenge facing Senior VP/Baseball Operations & GM Alex Anthopolous "entering the off-season is to fix the on-field problems in order to maintain off-field momentum." Changes "need to be made ... and here's where it gets murky for a club with a unique ownership structure." Maloney: "Who makes the decisions?" Rogers Media President Keith Pelley described the situation as "enviable." Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston: "We don't really have a board meeting. ... The goal is to make money or at least to break even and plow the money back into the team. So we’ll look and see where the salaries and revenues are, and if there’s some delta between the two, we’ll take it to (Rogers) and say: ‘This is what we have to do.’” Pelley "defers to Beeston on club operations." Pelley said, “The decision regarding payroll was not last year, and will not this year, be made in isolation." He added that the "transition of the parent company’s leadership from Nadir Mohamed to incoming CEO/president Guy Laurence should not affect the off-season process." Observers "expect the Jays to seek ownership’s approval" on a payroll increase of $20-25M (all figures U.S.) -- up from about $127.8M this year -- "without raising ticket prices" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/21).
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