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Volume 21 No. 13
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Baseball Hall of Fame stays on profitable run

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., posted a net profit of $250,366 for 2016, according to its recently filed federal tax return, down sharply from the prior two years but extending a run of profitability for the baseball shrine.

The profit for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016, marked the third straight year in the black, and only the fifth profitable year in the last 15 years. But after more successful years in 2014 and 2015 (see chart) driven in part by a popular commemorative coin program and enhanced fundraising efforts, the hall saw contributions and grants fall from $5.98 million in 2015 to $3.13 million last year. And total revenue fell to $12.2 million from $14.9 million in 2015 and $18.8 million in 2014.

Cooperstown cash

Recent profits and losses for the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Year Profit (Loss)
2016 $250,366
2015 $3.89 million
2014 $7.81 million
2013 ($1.46 million)
2012 ($3.06 million)
2011 ($2.08 million)
2010 ($2.36 million)

Source: Federal tax returns


Nonprofit accounting guidelines call for multiyear charitable contributions to be recorded in the year in which they are pledged, as opposed to when they are received. But the 2016 donation figure is generally in line with most recent years for the hall. Museum attendance, similarly, has stayed relatively stable with the expected year-end 2017 figure of 275,000 standing near the 2016 figure of 285,643 and 2015 total of 276,574.

While those metrics have stayed fairly static, the hall continues to enjoy an extended run of strong induction classes each July. The 2017 induction class of five, led in part by MLB Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig and Atlanta Braves Vice Chairman John Schuerholz, drew 27,500 people to Cooperstown, the fourth straight ceremony in excess of 25,000.

The selection of the 2018 class began Dec. 10 with the results of the Modern Baseball Era ballot, in which a panel of former players, team executives, writers and historians including Schuerholz evaluated a group of 10 candidates with contributions between 1970-87. The results were slated to be announced at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Florida this week.

The Baseball Writers Association of America ballot results, meanwhile, will be announced on Jan. 24, and the stacked field of hall candidates there includes new entrants Chipper Jones and Jim Thome along with holdovers such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Edgar Martinez and Trevor Hoffman. Very early tracking of writer votes made public by last week had seven players above the needed 75 percent threshold, which would represent the largest ever set of BBWAA inductees in a single year.

Ballots in 2019 and 2020 will include popular former players such as Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.

Jeff Idelson, hall president since early 2008, earned $428,200 in total compensation during 2016, up 5.6 percent from the prior year.