Business of Baseball Report: George Steinbrenner Stadium, Baseball in D.C., and Moreby Brian Borawski
April 20, 2005
The Yankees are moving….
…across the street. Rumors and reports are filtering out of the Yankees' front office that an agreement with the city and state is close to completion, and that the New York Yankees will have a new stadium to play in for the 2009 season. George Steinbrenner has been hot for a new, luxury box-laden stadium for quite some time, and has even played the “I’ll move the team” card on occasion by threatening to take the team to New Jersey.
The official announcement is supposed to come around May 1, and the proposed site is just north of the current home of the Bronx Bombers. Capacity is expected to be smaller then Yankee Stadium (50,800 vs. 57,478), but it’s the money from those luxury boxes that has Mr. Steinbrenner salivating. You can probably expect an increase in ticket prices to go along with the whole deal.
Probably the most interesting thing to come out of this was that the team will pony up for the cost of the entire stadium. Call me a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe that the city, county and/or state will come away from this with “just” having to build a new commuter rail station, improve the parking, and put some parks up by the waterfront near the stadium.
President George W. Bush for Commissioner
It looks like the current president is already planning his life after he saves Social Security (yes, I’m being facetious). Although he hasn’t publicly announced it, a couple of friends have said he’d like to get back into the game as commissioner. It’s too bad that job doesn’t have term limits, because at least for the time being, Bud Selig is pretty safe and will probably keep the job until he decides he doesn’t want it anymore. Selig is the most owner-friendly commissioner ever, and he’s one of the boys. The current regime would never give that up.
While nobody wants to admit it, Bud Selig is considering the appointment of an independent third party to investigate the steroid issue if Congress decides it doesn’t want to spend any more time on the subject. Since we know how quickly the commissioner’s office likes to move (example – Expos’ move to D.C.), maybe this is a job that will still be open when President Bush leaves office. As with everything else related to Selig, everything’s a secret, and only parity will save the game.
Washington Nationals Due Diligence – Round Two
The nine prospective owners of the Washington Nationals are going to get a second chance to comb through the books to determine how much they feel the team is worth. The latest curveball is MLB’s agreement with the Baltimore Orioles and owner Peter Angelos to create a regional sports network that would cover both the Nationals and Orioles. It seems quite a few of the prospective owners feel the deal between MLB and the Orioles dampens the sales price to around $275 million to $325 million, which was about $75 million less then anticipated. In the meantime, Bud Selig is doing all he can to boost the sales price. According to him, it’s a great time to buy a ball club.
Which leads to the question, “Why did he sell his team?”
Washington Nationals Debut at RFK
This is somewhat old news, but last week baseball returned to the nation’s capital for the first time in 34 years. They opened to a full house, and the biggest complaint had to do with extremely long lines. Whether it was the line getting into the stadium or the line to buy food (before they ran out), it sounds like fans did more waiting then they did watching the game.
Officials for the stadium are exploring changes, but for the time being, they’re blaming the increased security measures because of the presence of the President. Between that and the large crowd, it will probably take a few weeks before they ultimately decide on a new plan.
The other major complaint had to do with the pitching mound. Because the stadium is shared with the local Major League Soccer team, the pitching mound is portable and according to Frank Robinson and starter Livan Hernandez, it didn’t have enough clay, leaving the mound too soft. In the top of the third inning, the ground crew had to run out with a rake, shovel, and a bag of dirt to do some patch work to make sure the pitchers didn’t turn an ankle.
Marlins' Stadium Proposal Hits Roadblock
Miami-Dade County, in their push to try to accommodate the Marlins in their pursuit of state money for a new stadium, hit a wall last week. Florida House Finance and Tax Committee Chairman Fred Brummer basically said his committee wouldn't even consider the bill despite the Florida Senate Commerce Committee’s approval of the $60 million in sales tax breaks. For whatever reason, Brummer feels that working family’s tax dollars shouldn’t go to multi-millionaire baseball owners. Team officials are once again threatening to move so we’re going through the same thing just about every owner has tried in an attempt to get government funding. Can you say “Las Vegas Marlins?”
New Stadium for Twins Faces Fight Against the Clock
Reports have surfaced that the Minnesota Twins have decided on the location of their new downtown ball park. The state legislature closes in late May, so the Twins need to get on the ball and have a specific proposal in place if they want to approach the government for money before the current session is open. It looks like St. Paul will get the snub because the more populated Hennepin County would be more likely to raise tax revenue in support of the stadium. A major sticking point in the legislation will be whether the Twins come up with money up front, or whether they’ll try to make up any state shortfall through their annual rent payment.
Regardless, it looks like the Twins nine year quest for a new, at least partially publicly funded stadium is reaching its conclusion. Persistence pays off when you’re a millionaire owner and want a free handout from your local government.
San Diego Padres Hire New CEO
Sandy Alderson, MLB’s Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, has accepted the CEO job for the San Diego Padres. The former GM of the Oakland A’s was Billy Beane’s predecessor, and during his tenure there, the Athletics won three pennants and a World Series.
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.