Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
September 27, 2006
D.C. Parking Development Falls Through
As expected, the plan to incorporate the parking around the prospective Washington Nationals' stadium into a combined retail and condominium project fell through last week. Local developer Herbert S. Miller rejected Washington, D.C.’s latest plan, so for now the whole idea has been shelved. The Nationals also opposed the plan because they thought it would hold up the opening of the new stadium.
The big question going forward is what parking arrangements will be made for the new stadium. It’s now likely that the city will just pave over the area that was to be developed and use that for parking once the stadium opens in 2008. This would also leave open the option of bring a developer back into the mix to do something a little more substantial.
MLB Praises Parity As Revenue Sharing Becomes Big-Ticket Item in Current CBA Negotations
MLB has been all over the National League Wild Card race, which has been a virtual version of musical chairs. With one week to go in the regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies sit tied in the National League race, but up until a few weeks ago as many as 10 different teams were contending for that final playoff spot.
In his New York Times article last weekend, Murray Chass discusses the issue of parity in baseball right now. Of the nine teams currently in the mix, there are three teams each from the top third, middle third and bottom third in the league as far as payroll goes. He discusses briefly the impact of revenue sharing and the advent of the Wild Card on parity in baseball.
Mets Shuffle Minor League Affiliates
The Mets will have not just one, but two new minor league affiliates next year. The team’s Triple-A affiliate this year, the Norfolk Tide, will now be the Baltimore Orioles' Triple-A affiliate, and the Mets have reached an agreement with the New Orleans Zephyrs to be their Triple-A affiliate. The Mets are also on the lookout for a new Single-A affiliate after their affiliate for the last two seasons in Hagerstown signed on to be the Washington Nationals' minor league affiliate.
This is all on top of last week’s news that the Columbus Clippers would no longer be the New York Yankees' minor league affiliate. The Yankees have since come to an agreement with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to be Columbus’ successor. The Washington Nationals will now use the Clippers as their Triple-A affiliate.
White Sox Make Front Office Moves
The White Sox made some changes in their front office last week. The team’s field coordinator, Alan Regier, will take over as farm director in addition to his current duties. Former farm director Dave Wilder is also the team’s director for player development, and it looks like he’ll be spending more time as a talent evaluator. Assistant general manager Rick Hahn is also expected to take on more responsibility as general manager Ken Williams is set to delegate more of his duties down to Hahn and Wilder.
An Inside Look at Sponsorship and Marketing in Sports
BizofBaseball recently released a very interesting interview with Dean Bonham, whose Bonham Group has negotiated more than $2 billion in sponsorship contracts, including the negotations for the naming rights for U.S. Cellular Field and Petco Park. The interview touches on Bonham’s experiences as a president for the Denver Nuggets all the way to his thoughts on MLB Advanced Media. It’s definitely a great read so be sure to check it out.
Baseball Team for Sale?
Kevin McClatchy, managing general partner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been noncommittal in recent interviews as to whether or not he will unload his interest in the Pirates. While McClatchy is being coy, many think that it’ll be a bigger surprise if he were to be back next year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the longest stretch of losing seasons in the majors. The last time they had a winning record was 1992. Barry Bonds still played for the team, Jim Leyland was the coach and the Pirates had just won their third straight division title. Since then, there have been four new teams and one has won two World Series (Florida Marlins) and another has won one (Arizona Diamondbacks).
This lack of success hasn’t hurt the potential selling price of the club. When McClatchy bought a controlling interest in the club, the sales price was $92 million. Recent estimates have put the value of the franchise at $250 million.
Baseball Team Sold?
The sale of the Atlanta Braves hasn't quite reached what happened with the Montreal Expos, but it may certainly make a run. Time Warner has been looking to sell the team since last winter, and while they have a prospective buyer in Liberty Media, there still hasn't been a sale despite the two sides having exclusive negotiations for for five months. In a recent presentation, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei made some veiled remarks about how complicated things are. It also appears that Time Warner isn't making things easy either.
It'll be interesting to see what happens to the Braves in the offseason if a sale is finalized. Time Warner might not be willing to spend big money only to then unload the team. It might mean a quiet free agency period for the team.
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.