Business of Baseball Report

Braderton, FL Agrees to Renovate Pirates Spring Training Facility

The Pittsburgh Pirates spring training facility will get an $18 million face lift as part of a lease between the team and Braderton, FL. The upgrades to the current facility include lights and a new visitors’ clubhouse at McKechnie Field, where the Pirates home spring training games are played. Of the $18 million, nine million will come from a state funded program that Florida set up to keep teams from defecting to Arizona.

McKechnie Field has never had lights, so with that upgrade there is a hope that the stadium could attract a minor league team. Because the field doesn’t currently facilitate night games, the location has never fielded a minor league team, as a lot of other spring training facilities do.

Major Groups Look at Minor League Teams As Sound Investments

Major League Baseball may be big business, but Minor League Baseball definitely isn’t small business. There’s a growing trend in minor league baseball where ownership groups end up with managing stakes in multiple teams. Nineteen ownership groups now own multiple franchises and of the 150 minor league teams in existence, 54 of them are owned by those same 19 ownership groups. This definitely hasn’t hurt minor league baseball, because for the third straight season, attendance was at a record high. In 2006, 41 million fans came out to see minor league baseball games.

The idea of relocating teams has also become more prevalent. This Baseball America column talks about how the Dayton Dragons have sold out every game in every season since the team moved from Rockford. There’s a 5,000 person waiting list just to get tickets.

Mandalay Baseball Properties leads the way with five franchises. They also manage two other teams.

Washington Nationals Look to Spend to Improve New Stadium

The Washington Nationals are looking to spend close to $30 million to improve their new stadium, which is currently under construction and projected to be ready for the 2008 season. The Lerner ownership group plans to improve the main scoreboard, double the size of the outfield restaurant and expand the out-of-town scoreboard. This would all go on top of the $611 million that the city is coughing up to build the stadium.

The Lerner group isn’t just spending the money to make the stadium more aesthetically appealing. They hope to eventually profit from most of the improvements, whether it’s from increases in advertising revenue because the center field scoreboard has better picture quality, or a new LED display, which would allow one more sponsor to cough up some money to pay to advertise their business there.

Court Rules Federal Authorities Can Have Names of Positive Steroid Tests

The Major League Baseball Players Association was dealt a blow last week when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal investigators could now use the names and urine samples of the 104 people who tested positive for performing enhancement drugs in 2003. At the time, the tests were done to determine the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs to determine the extent of future testing and penalties.

At issue is whether 11 players who testified before grand jury in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case perjured themselves. In some cases, like Barry Bonds, it will be difficult to prove even if it become public knowledge that a given player actually tested positive based on how they hedged their answers.

The MLBPA will most definitely appeal this decision, and will cite the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which deals with privacy rights in their defense. The next step will be either having the Ninth Circuit rehear the case before the entire 12 judge panel or to appeal the case before the United States Supreme Court. Either way, it’s expected that the matter won’t be resolved well into 2008. For a great summary of the decision, be sure to check out Maury Brown’s latest Ledger Domain.

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