Business of Baseball Report

Florida Governor Backs Stadium Funding Plan

The Florida Marlins are inching closer and closer to finally getting their stadium plan passed that will give them a new, retractable roof stadium in downtown Miami. Recently, Florida governor Charlie Crist told reporters that he backed a new plan that would use sales tax receipts to help fund the stadium. Miami-Dade County has already committed to provide $120 million, and the Marlins say they’ll kick in $210 million, but that still leaves about $90 million left to build the stadium. The county wants the state to bridge most of that gap by contributing $60 million in sales tax receipts over the next 30 years.

This is probably the closest the Marlins have ever been to getting their stadium plan approved, but the state legislature still provides a road block. The biggest issue there is that the state has already provided money to the team to make Dolphins Stadium more baseball friendly. There’s speculation that they’ll be opening a can of worms if they let the Marlins have a second subsidy.

Ticket Reseller Under Fire in Boston

A recent court case may completely unwind the laws in the state of Massachusetts that only allow ticket resellers to mark up tickets by $2 over face value plus certain expenses. That didn’t stop Quincy District Court Judge Mark S. Coven from forcing Admit One, a ticket reseller who came under fire for selling a Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees ticket with a face value of $80 for $500 in 2005, to identify who supplied the company with tickets. In a lot of cases, teams place restrictions on season ticket holders that preclude them from selling their tickets to outside brokers. In some cases, the team has gone as far as revoking the person’s season tickets to people who violated this rule. Admit One tried to defend itself by saying that the markup was for actual expenses, but this argument didn’t fly. In the meantime, the state has a pending bill that would allow resellers to sell tickets for up to three times the face value, but this doesn’t get around the team restrictions.

It will be interesting to see how this whole area develops as the teams and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which owns the website Tickets.com, want a piece of the resale action. In a lot of ways, the situation will differ based on the region. A team with low attendance might look the other way as long as they know they’re selling season tickets, while a team like the Red Sox or Yankees have a hammer since their tickets are in such demand.

Ripken Baseball Looks to Buy Third Minor League Franchise

Ripken Baseball, a company headed by Hall of Fame shortstop/third baseman Cal Ripken, Jr., is one of the bidders looking to buy the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Harrisburg, in the Eastern League has been the Nationals’ minor league affiliate since 1991 when the team was still in Montreal.

Ripken Baseball also owns two Class-A teams; this points to the growing trend of ownership groups owning multiple minor league teams. The team is currently owned by the city of Harrisburg, and they’re hoping a sale would help the city close its budget deficit and pay off some debt.

Greenville Drive Plans Improvements for Fenway Clone

The Greenville Drive, the Boston Red Sox Single-A affiliate, aren’t content with their brand-new stadium that opened last season. West End Field, which was set up with dimensions to replicate Fenway Park (green monster included), drew three times as many people as the team’s old stadium did the year before. Now the ownership group is planning more improvements for the 2007 season.

The improvements include the Dugout Suite, which will be a field level seating area located on the first base side of the infield. There will also be a 1,500 square foot playground for the kids as well as new décor for the concourse and expanded menu. The price tag of the improvements will run close to $1 million.

MLB, DirecTV Deal Faces Congressional Scrutiny

MLB was supposed to announce its exclusive deal with DirecTV this week but that seems unlikely now that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the deal. It’s unclear whether this will derail the agreement or just cause a road block. The hammer that Congress could use is the revocation of the league’s anti-trust exemption but I haven’t seen any threats made to this effect yet.

Discrimination Lawsuit Against Angels Thrown Out by Judge

I was on the fence about even reporting this because it seemed so silly but it is in the news. Michael Cohn, a Los Angeles psychologist, sued the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for discriminating against men because the team gave away free tote bags only to women on Mother’s Day in 2005. He went as far to say his civil rights had been violated and he was suing for $4,000 in damages. Now the lawyer for Cohn, Alfred Rava, could face sanctions because he’s filed over 40 similar suits over things like lady’s night discounts at bars.

Yankee Stadium Awarded the 2008 All Star Game

This wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was made official last week. Yankee Stadium will host the All Star Game in 2008 in what will be the New York Yankees final season at the historic ballpark.

58 Years Ago Today……

….Joe DiMaggio became the first player to sign a deal for more then $100,000 in a season. The highest paid player prior to that time was Cleveland Indians starter Bob Feller ($85,000) and the league average $15,000.

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