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Volume 24 No. 160


A majority of MLB Cardinals season-ticket buyers "will see a hike in ticket prices and overall season tickets will see an average increase" of 4.1% in '14, according to Derrick Goold of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Ticket-holders also "will see several new sections of seats" at Busch Stadium. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said that a total of 83% of season tickets "will see an increase," 57% of the season-ticket prices will go up by $1 per game, and all-inclusive tickets will increase in cost by 4.7%. Goold noted the Cardinals "have carved up the area of seats behind home plate and between first and third base and also split the tiers in the outfield bleachers." The team "took an area of about 5,700 seats and redistricted it into two areas -- the home field boxes (directly behind home plate) and the infield field boxes (the bookends)." The home field boxes "are the more-premium seats." New seats in the overlook deck section at Ballpark Village also will open for '14, but "are not yet for sale and won't be this season to season-ticket holders." DeWitt said that the Cardinals "annually have a renewal percentage in the low 90s." He added that the team's NL Championship in '13 will "mean budgeting for a slight bump from last year's ticket sales." Goold noted season-ticket prices "saw an average increase" of 2.8% after the team's World Series win in '11. Half of Busch Stadium's seats are "usually purchased by season-ticket holders" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/14).

Pirates fans during Saturday's PirateFest "grilled Pirates president Frank Coonelly about the team's television contract with Root Sports, according to Bill Brink of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Coonelly "defended the TV deal with Root Sports in response to a question about whether the contract contained a clause allowing re-negotiation." He also said the Pirates' reported revenue of $18-20M per year was "not even close to the right number." Coonelly added that the payroll "would continue to increase at a rate similar to that of the past three years." An AP report showed that the Pirates finished '10 with a $44.1M payroll, and opened '13 with an $80M payroll, roughly $13M of which "came from other teams." Coonelly said, "We'll be up again next year. We'll continue to reinvest the dollars that we generate and that you provide for this organization into the club" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/15). In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel noted the fan Q&A in previous years "has been marked by pointed questions and even angry outbursts by fans," but this year "was different." About a dozen season-ticket holders gave Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington a "standing ovation at the start of the hourlong Q&A session." Many of the questions "began with expressions of gratitude for this past season" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/15).

THE TRUST TREE: In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey wrote under the header, "Pirates Have Earned More Trust." The Pirates "spent baseball's hot-stove season in a damp, cold basement," and fans' reactions have been "predictable." Fans seem to believe "they're cheap," and that team Owner Bob Nutting "doesn't want to win." When fans have been "burned for five or 10 or 20 years," it is "hard to trust again." But an MLB team's "ability to spend these days is directly related to its local television deal, and the Pirates don't measure up." The team's payroll, "though modest, will increase again, as it should given the influx of national TV money." They "do have the National League's best player secured to a team-friendly deal" through '18 in CF Andrew McCutchen. Starkey: "The Pirates might actually know what they're doing" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/15).

In Detroit, Tony Paul wrote signing P Joba Chamberlain was the "latest cost-conservative move for the typically free-spending Tigers, who mostly passed on the bigger names this offseason and signed second-tier guys." Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski "once again reiterated the team isn’t cutting payroll -- and he's right." The Tigers started '13 around $150M, among the highest in the game, and "will be slightly over that" for '14. But the Tigers "clearly are choosing not to spend all" of the $25M the team will receive in additional TV revenue. Given that the Tigers have "reportedly lost money almost every year Mike Ilitch has owned the team, it's certainly their prerogative if they want to keep some of the new cash" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/14).

ROYAL TREATMENT: In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote Royals Owner David Glass is "operating the way a solid, standard, relatively small-money owner should operate in a baseball world." Glass "sent a subtle but important message" when he extended GM Dayton Moore's contact for just two years, and "he's sending another one now" with a four-year, $30M contract for 2B Omar Infante. The signing gives the team a "bump in payroll that should put the Royals" above $90M for the first time (K.C. STAR, 12/14).

OH, BROTHER: In Philadelphia, Matt Gelb wrote under the header, "Amaro Has Phils Stuck Between Rebuilding And Contending." The Phillies "will not spend their way" out of an aging roster, because it is "irresponsible spending that landed them here." Gone are the days of "fretting about the luxury tax," as the team will "spend well below" the $189M luxury tax threshold. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. "is right" in his belief that the Phillies "should be able to win with a payroll" of $165-170M. Gelb: "Just not with a team constructed like his" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/15).

KING OF QUEENS? In Newark, Barry Federovitch wrote the Mets gained "credibility, a trait sorely lacking in recent years" by signing CF Curtis Granderson and P Bartolo Colon. If it is "fair to criticize GM Sandy Alderson when he does nothing, you have to give him the lion's share of credit when he actually puts the team in the discussion for a National League wild-card berth, which is what he may have done." Still, the Mets are "only that, in the discussion, on the fringe of respectability, and it is from here that Alderson and the Mets will determine if that credibility is transitory or built upon" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/15).