BOB: Final World Series Ratings and the State of the Economy

World Series ratings set new standard

World Series ratings have been on a decline for years. The 2006 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals set a new record low in terms of viewership, and while the 2007 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies marginally avoided topping (in a bad way) the 2006 record, that turned out to be a mere blip in the ratings slide.

The 2008 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays set a new low. The average viewership for the five-game series came in at 13.6 million, which was a full 14 percent lower then the record low set in 2006. The lone bright spot of the series was the tail end of Game 5, which drew 19.8 million viewers. It also marked the first time since 1998 that the NBA Finals outdrew the World Series.

Newark Bears file chapter 11 bankruptcy

The Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League announced that they’ve filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The team is in debt for upwards of $4.6 million, which includes $3.4 million to a mortgage company and $800,000 to Essex County. The filing allows the team to carry on its day-to-day activities while it takes care of its finances in order to pay creditors.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of cascade effect this has on the city of Newark and Essex County, both of whom are on the hook for a $1 million debt payment that was initially set up to pay for a $30 million stadium. If money isn’t coming in from the team, you wonder how long the city and county will be able to continue to make their debt payments on the stadium.

Red Sox stick with Fort Myers

The Boston Red Sox won’t be following fellow defectors like the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds, all of whom have agreed to move their spring training operations from Florida to Arizona. The Red Sox agreed to a 30-year deal that will keep them in Fort Myers for the foreseeable future. The deal includes a brand new stadium with about a 40 percent increase in capacity. In addition, the new facility will house both the stadium and the practice facilities, a luxury the Red Sox haven’t had.

It helped that Lee County put forth some cash in order to keep the Red Sox. This was one of the primary roadblocks between the city of Sarasota and the Reds. Sarasota seemed unwilling to pony up for a new stadium, so the team is leaving for the desert. Lee County is banking on the help of local landowners to donate the 80-acre parcel of land that will be used for the new ballpark.

Pennsylvania pitches in to help renovate Blair County Ballpark

Blair County Ballpark, home of the Altoona Curve, is going to get a face lift thanks to a $1.3 million grant for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The fix up will include a brand new playing field that should be set for the beginning of the 2009 season. The stadium hasn’t been without a new playing surface since 1999, and the projected life span of that was pegged at five to seven years so it looks like the fix is a little overdue.

Is Bud Selig crying wolf?

MLB commissioner Bud Selig recently discussed with the baseball owners how a currently tough economy could damper another blockbuster season, at least as far as revenue goes. The warning came via video conference and it was one of the highlights of the ongoing general managers meeting. Scott Boras seemed to think Selig might be getting everyone used to the fact that this free agent season could be a tight one and he was around to give his views. He says the league is flush with money and that this should be one of the most fruitful free agent signing seasons ever.

Regardless, this year should be an interesting one from an economic analysis perspective. People everywhere are tightening their belts and this could have a direct impact on most team’s attendance. Still, as Boras talks about, many of the teams revenue are already fixed, be it naming rights for their stadium or television deals.

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