BOB: minor league wrapby Brian Borawski
September 25, 2013
Minor League attendance wrapThe minor league baseball season is in the books, and the winner at the ticket booth depends on how you look at the numbers. In all, Minor League Baseball sold over 41 million tickets, which is a small uptick from last year. Average attendance was up even more because there were so many games cancelled compared to last year. It was the ninth straight year that minor league attendance topped the 41 million mark.
The club with the best average attendance was the Columbus Clippers, with 9.212 tickets sold per game. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs were second with 9,016 tickets sold, and the Indianapolis Indians were third at 8,980. Oddly, the Indians were the No. 1 team in overall attendance because they had fewer cancellations, with an overall number of tickets sold of 637,579.
The Sacramento RiverCats were fourth, and they were the best in the Pacific Coast League. Number five were the Dayton Dragons, the lone club that wasn’t a Triple-A team. The Dragons extended their consecutive sellout game streak to 983 games, as they’ve sold out every game since the team started in Dayton in 2000. The Dragons' fourteen seasons mark the best fourteen seasons a Single-A team has ever had at the ticket booth.
The top Double-A team was the Frisco Roughriders with 7,057 tickets sold per game. The Brooklyn Cyclones were the top short-season league with 6,276 tickets sold per game.
In all, it was another solid season for Minor League Baseball, which never saw a severe downturn in tickets sold when the recession hit back in 2008. At the same time, they have a limited upside as well, so unless some teams add new ballparks with higher capacities and some extra buzz, you’ll most likely see the league hover around that 41 million total for a while.
Hiroshi Yamauchi passes at age 85Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Seattle Mariners principal owner and the retired chairman of Nintendo, passed away at the age of 85 last week. When he bought the team, there was some controversy because it made the Mariners the first team to be owned by non-North Americans, but Yamauchi was a key part of keeping the team in Seattle.
When he bought the team, it seemed prior ownership had been looking to relocate the team to Tampa, which could have created an interesting chain of events. (For example, would Seattle then have been granted the expansion team that eventually became the Tampa Bay Rays?) Instead, Yamauchi kept the team in the city and was part of getting the Mariners their new ballpark.
Having Japanese ownership also appeared to help the club land Japanese players, with several notable players like Ichiro Suzuki and Hisashi Iwakuma coming to Seattle. Yamauchi eventually passed ownership of the team over to Nintendo, so his passing shouldn’t create any kind of power struggle at the team.
Red Sox secure rights to Yawkey WayThe Boston Red Sox have inked a new deal worth $7.3 million in total that will allow them to close off part of Yawkey Way on game days to sell concessions. It also gives the team air rights over Lansdowne Street for as long as it plays in Fenway Park.
The Red Sox will make ten annual payments of $734,000, which, once completed, will give the team ownership of the air rights and a limited easement of Yawkey Way. The BoSox have been leasing these same things from the Boston Redevelopment Authority since 2003, and they’ve been paying $183,000 a year do so.
The air rights are what they used to construct the Green Monster seating section, and Yawkey Way has effectively been turned into a team-owned food court. Right now they have Aramark handling the concessions, and ultimately both they and the club benefit to the tune of $4.5 million in revenue from the street vendors.
Coliseum sewage backup helps bring up Athletics stadium searchA plugged up toilet caused sewage water to leak into the Oakland Athletics dugout at the Oakland Coliseum last week. The flood forced the team to watch the rest of the game from the top step of the dugout, and while staff has said it wasn’t a big deal, it’s the second sewage backup of the season, which brings the Athletics’ stadium search back into the spotlight.
Athletics owner Lew Wolff actually defended the ballpark, saying it wasn’t a big deal. In the meantime, all eyes are set on Oct. 4, 2013, when San Jose’s challenge of MLB’s antitrust exemption will be heard.
Since the lawsuit was filed, there’s been no news out of the league about a potential move to San Jose, but you wonder if the city knocked itself out of the running by attacking the Lords of Baseball. In the meantime, the team is getting ready for its playoff run, and you’d think the fewer distractions they had, the better.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.