SBD/April 7, 2014/Franchises

Nationals' $140M Payroll "Beyond Topped Out" Until Team Finds New Revenue Streams

Lerner said season-ticket sales for the Nationals are up slightly from last year
Nationals Principal Owner Mark Lerner on Friday said the team is "beyond topped out" with a payroll around $140M and he does not think it can increase "with the revenue stream that we have," according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWASHINGTON.com. The Nats' '14 payroll is "by far their largest in 10 seasons" since relocating to DC. If the club "finds itself needing to make a midseason acquisition, the options might be limited, depending on any new revenue sources cropping up along the way." To that end, Lerner said that season-ticket sales "are up slightly from last year, though still below the club’s self-imposed cap of 20,000." Zuckerman noted the Nats drew a total of 2.65 million fans in '13, an average of nearly 33,000 per game. Another "potential source of increased revenue would be via a new or revised television deal, but no progress appears to have been made in the longstanding disagreement between the Nationals and Orioles over their annual rights fee." Lerner admitted that future spending "could be affected by the result of the TV contract negotiation." He said, "We certainly have to be careful in our projections and how we spend money." Meanwhile, Lerner confirmed that the club "is in negotiations with Palm Beach County about building a new spring training complex, likely one that would be shared" with the Astros. But Zuckerman noted even if a deal is "struck soon, the Nationals would remain in Viera for at least one more spring, likely two" (CSNWASHINGTON.com, 4/4). Meanwhile, Lerner said of whether his family has felt pressure to sell naming rights to Nationals Park, "We haven't actively been looking in the past few years. ... It's not something we're rushing to do" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/5).
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