BOB: Minor league attendance records and more on the Marlins

Minor League Baseball sets attendance record

Minor League Baseball announced last week that for the fourth season in a row, they set a new attendance record. As of Labor Day, the turnstiles had turned 42.6 million times, which eclipses last year’s mark of 41.7 million. Prior to 2004, the attendance record hadn’t been broken since 1949.

Ten of the 12 minor leagues showed an increase in attendance from the year before. One of those leagues was the Pacific Coast League (PCL), which set its own record this year. 7,420,095 fans made it to 1,120 games, exceeding last year’s record of 7, 413,505. It also marks the third straight season that the league averaged more than 6,600 fans per game. The Sacramento River Cats, who are currently playing in the league championship, led the PCL with a total attendance of 710,235.

ESPN could hinder Disney’s profits

In an interesting analysis over at Bloomberg.com, Andy Fixmer speculates that the high prices that ESPN is paying for professional sports television deals could mean lower profits for parent company Disney down the road. Sports contracts will boost the company’s expenses by over $1 billion beginning in 2008, but cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner are limited in the amount they can increase subscriber fees. The story is a very interesting look into some of the happenings with ESPN.

Pirates fire David Littlefield

The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the verge of yet another losing season and ownership finally took action by firing general manager Dave Littlefield. In the meantime, the team’s senior director of player development, Brian Graham, will take over as the interim general manager.

Littlefield became somewhat of a joke this past July when reports came out that he wanted Toronto Blue Jays slugger Troy Glaus for the light hitting shortstop Jack Wilson. He made an equally outrageous offer to the Tigers, asking for a top-of-the-line pitching prospect as well as some more goodies. Ironically, Jack Wilson has been on fire since the trade talks leaked out and probably could have helped out a contending team down the stretch based on what he’s done to date.

Marlins stadium push continues

The Florida Marlins continue to scrounge for money to build a new stadium, and they very well may have found it. With the University of Miami leaving the Orange Bowl, some $85 million that was earmarked to renovate the stadium has been freed up. There’s speculation that if the deal is right, Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami would be willing to use that money to help fund a new stadium.

As it stands, there’s still a shortfall of $40 million, so those new funds could be what pushes the stadium forward. The problem is, the county and city would save some money if the Orange Bowl site is used because the infrastructure is already in place. To date, the Marlins haven’t agreed to play at the Orange Bowl site, so that’s one of the holdups. They’d prefer a downtown Miami stadium

MLBAM teams up with Imagine Sports

Imagine Sports, the owner of Diamond Mind Online, recently came to an agreement with Major League Baseball Advance Media that will allow Imagine to being officially licensed content to its simulation baseball games. This will include league and team logos, data, player name and player images in its simulation games. Diamond Mind Online is a baseball simulation that allows players to compete against one another as if they were real general managers, and the addition of the officially licensed content should really push Imagine to the forefront in the baseball simulation market.

Minor League Baseball and the radio

In late August, Minor League Baseball celebrated the 85th anniversary of its first radio telecast. In a fitting tribute, Benjamin Hill penned an excellent column both going through the history of that telecast as well as including the highlights of some of the great radio announcers still calling games.

MLB looking for names from Albany district attorney

The league is hoping for some cooperation with the district attorney that’s investigating the purchase of performance-enhancing drugs. It looks like the league is after targets, and while they already have a few in Rick Ankiel and Jay Gibbons, it appears they want to give the Mitchell investigation some teeth. Up until now, all the league has been able to do is wait for player names to leak, but they’re hoping to get something a little more in advance.

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