Business of Baseball Report

Spring Training Moves

In the fewer than two months before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, teams are ironing out their plans. The Cleveland Indians appear to be on the move and they’ll leave their Winter Haven, FL home in 2009 for the Cactus League. The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority approved funding that would help pay for a complex for the Indians in Goodyear, Ariz., a west Phoenix suburb. The Indians aren’t strangers to Arizona though because they played their spring games in Tucson, Ariz. until they left there in 1993 to play at Winter Haven.

The Baltimore Orioles looked like they might be headed to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL. The Dodgers are leaving their old facility to play in Glendale, Ariz., and there was speculation about a move when Orioles executives paid a visit to Vero Beach. This could have been posturing though because over the weekend, Fort Lauderdale city commissioners finally approved a deal that would keep the team there once the Orioles said they’d fund the $1 million difference between the cost of the renovations they want and what Broward County and the state would be chipping in. The expected price tag of the new complex is approximately $40 million.

Yankees Hit Hard Again by Luxury Tax

The good news is that the New York Yankees paid close to $8 million less in luxury tax for the 2006 season than they did in 2005. The bad news is that they received a bill from the league for $26 million, which raises the team’s total since the tax was put in place to nearly $98 million. Only two other teams have ever had to pay the luxury tax, and neither has come anywhere close to what the Yankees have doled out. The Boston Red Sox have paid $7.8 million since the tax was put in place in 2002 and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have paid nearly $1 million.

While the luxury tax floor was increased as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the players and the league, the graduated tax structure was not, so the Yankees will probably be hit by a similar amount next year. The Yankees have until January 31, 2007 to pay the league the $26 million.

Mets’ Fans Pay for Winning Team

The National League East Champion New York Mets recently announced they were going to raise the price of their best seats by $12 and that they were also going to raise the price of the best available individual game tickets by $7 after a very successful 2006 season. Fans will now have to pay anywhere between $72 to $108 for tickets nearest the two dugouts; that’s up from $60 to $96 in 2006.

Of course this is a bargain compared to the Mets’ American League counterparts, the Yankees. Seats near the dugout at Yankee stadium will have a price tag right around $150, which is up from $110 the year before.

BALCO Lives On

In the story that will probably never die, Yahoo Sports columnist Josh Peters recently wrote an excellent column that claims Troy Ellerman, a defense attorney in the case, is the man who leaked grand jury testimony to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004 that eventually was turned into a bestselling book by two reporters for the Chronicle. A private investigator that did work for Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) is apparently making the claims because he was concerned he’d be indicted if it was determined he was withholding information.

In the meantime, the two reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, could face prison time because they’ve refused to reveal their source. Their book, Game of Shadows, was a bestseller when it came out in March.

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