Business of Baseball Report

World Series Game 1 TV Ratings Down

Saturday night’s 5-3 World Series thriller was a great game to watch. Unfortunately for the league and Fox, the game drew a tepid 9.5% of U.S. households and Game 2 didn’t fare much better. The two games averaged approximately 16 million viewers, down close to eight million viewers from last year’s World Series.

Most disconcerting for Fox is that the numbers were even worse for viewers aged 18 to 49. This age range is the target audience for most television networks, and 40% less watched this World Series then did 2004’s.

D.C. Faces Stiff Resistance in Land Grab

Of the 23 property owners on the Anacostia Riverfront site, only one land owner has agreed to sell out at the price assessed by the city. The 23 offers for the future home of the Washington Nationals totaled $97 million, and it was expected that the D.C. attorney general’s office will go to the D.C. Superior Court to begin the process of securing the land through eminent domain.

In some cases, the city and the land owner are so far apart that it might make meeting the $165 million cap on the acquisition of the land difficult. In order to speed up the process, the city will employ a “quick take” provision in the eminent domain law. Under this rule, the city assumes title to the property immediately after depositing the money into a court controlled escrow account. Then the owner has 90 days to vacate the property, and the ultimate sales price will be determined in court.

Scoring Tickets to the Big Game is Getting Easier

White Sox fans aren’t just enjoying their team’s first World Series appearance in 46 years, they’re also enjoying a greater chance of actually being able to see their team live and in person. In May, an Illinois provision was passed that lifted the ban on unlicensed individuals reselling event tickets for more then their face value. The new law was intended to prevent fraudulent selling by allowing a great number of ticket resellers. Another legislative change in Illinois allows individuals to sell their tickets at more than face value on approved online channels such as eBay and Stubhub.

Online resellers continue to get greater and greater latitude in their business as states have begun to cave in on their scalping laws. New York recently raised the percentage limit on the markup of a ticket from 20% to 45%, and the industry is also lobbying for favorable changes in both Massachusetts and Florida.

Is it the Name??

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are cashing in. Whether it’s their association with a larger TV market or their on field success, Fox Sports Net (FSN) is believed to have offered the Angels the same 10 year, $340 million deal that the Dodgers signed last year. Angels owner Arte Moreno was flirting with the idea of starting his own cable channel, and this bid by Fox Sports is being used to sway Moreno toward sticking with FSN, as it would triple the team’s television revenue from 2004. The team declined to comment outside of saying how they’ve been happy with FSN as a partner.

San Diego City Council Approves Ballpark Village Project

The San Diego City Council approved a $1.4 billion redevelopment project that will be adjacent to the home of the San Diego Padres, Petco Park. The seven acre “Ballpark Village” is a mixed use project that will eventually include 3.2 million square feet of retail, office and residential space. Originally, the city was supposed to build 82 to 100 affordable condominiums, but the developers changed the plans at the last minute and wanted to include the low income housing off-site. As a compromise, the new plan now requires 35,000 square feet of moderately priced condominiums with another 153 low income rental apartments located in a nearby neighborhood.

Baseball Seeking Olympic Reinstatement

International Baseball Federation president Aldo Notari and president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, Denis Oswald are leading an effort to try to get baseball reinstated as a sport in the Summer Olympics. MLB’s chief operating officer, Bob DuPuy, left the World Series to join the talks.

The International Olympic Committee has cited MLB’s unwillingness to let its players take part in the games along with the steroid issues that have dominated the press at times this summer as reasons against reinstatement. Notari countered that it’s only North America that holds back its professional players, while other countries send their best players.

Tal Smith Interview

Maury Brown, co-chair of SABR’s Business of Baseball Committee, had a chance to interview the Houston Astros president of baseball operations, Tal Smith. Mr. Smith talks about a number of subjects, including the development of Minute Maid Park and his views on the arbitration process.

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