Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
November 16, 2005
Dodgers Survey Fans Prior To Ticket Price Hike
The Los Angeles Dodgers are surveying fans about a myriad of topics as they get set to raise ticket prices. The survey includes questions that range from ticket prices to promotions to renovations, and it even includes questions regarding how owner Frank McCourt should focus his charitable efforts. The most interesting question has nothing to do with the Dodgers though and revolves around the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s name change.
Dodger spokeswoman Camille Johnston stated that the team wanted to know what the fans thought about what’s going on in the Los Angeles marketplace and whether city residents look at the Angels as an alternative to Dodger baseball. The survey included 60 different questions, but each fan isn’t asked all 60 questions. Johnston didn’t provide details on the ticket price increase would, but she did say that it would be nominal and that it would apply to every seat.
D.C. and MLB Still at Odds Over Stadium Lease
Nobody should have expected MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to make a quick decision on the sale of the Washington Nationals. The relocation of the team dragged out over several years and as they always say, history has a tendency to repeat itself.
The major sticking point is still the stadium lease. Washington, D.C. wants MLB to guarantee the $6 million that it will cost to finance the lease as rent payments regardless of whether the team plays or not. MLB is balking at the proposal. Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is leading the negotiations with the city, and while there’s some speculation that the league will ultimately give the city what it wants, you can never be too sure. In the meantime, MLB isn’t going to name a new owner until the lease deal is worked out, while the city feels MLB should name the new owner so they can negotiate directly with the new ownership.
In other D.C. news, the city is attempting to buy five acres of land just outside of the stadium's footprint with the hope that they can build a “Ballpark District.” The main concern is that the area will do fine, but only during the 81 days that the Nationals actually play a home game. The city is hoping to create a mixed-use zone to provide a destination for residents and tourists alike and that they’ll be able to garner a better return on their stadium investment.
Las Vegas Twins?
Hall of Fame outfielder Reggie Jackson recently inserted himself into the Minnesota Twins’ relocation/stadium issues by offering to buy the team. While Reggie didn’t come out and say it, he heads an investment group with strong Las Vegas ties, and there’s speculation that if he bought the team, we’d be seeing a move to Vegas.
The Twins didn’t waste much time before saying that they weren’t for sale, but the announcement has once again brought Las Vegas to the forefront of getting a major league franchise. Namely, they don’t have even an interim stadium for a major league team, and it’s unclear whether a mostly tourist population would be able to support a major league franchise. Throw in the fact that the city would be the smallest television market to have a MLB team (currently they’re ranked 48th), and it’s pretty clear that baseball probably won’t end up in Vegas anytime too soon. This won't stop Bud Selig and the owners from using the city as a bargaining chip for some free money.
Padres Plan on Tweaking Right Field
PETCO Park, the home of the San Diego Padres, is one of the worst hitters' parks in the league. In an effort to correct this, the team has announced that they may move the right field wall in from 411 feet to 395 feet. Padres general manager Kevin Towers stated that it’s probably a better than 50/50 chance that this will happen prior to next year’s Opening Day.
The problem is, they need to start planning now. PETCO will host both the semifinals and the finals of the upcoming inaugural World Baseball Classic. In order to move the fences in by then, which would be the weekend of March 18-20, they have to begin work on the wall now.
MLB and MLBPA Agree On New Drug Policy
It’s not too often that the Major League Baseball Players’ Association gets their butts handed to them, but Congress forced their hand. Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr announced that they agreed in principal on tougher standards for steroid use. The new deal provides for a 50-game suspension for first-time offenders, 100 games for second-time offenders and then a lifetime ban for a third offense. Third-time offenders would be able to seek reinstatement after two years.
Even more interesting is that the new deal includes random testing for amphetamines, although the penalties are less severe. A first-time offender will be subject to an evaluation and follow-up testing. A second offense gets a player a 25-game suspension, a third offense garners 80 games and a fourth offense could potentially lead to a lifetime ban.
The agreement also calls for more frequent testing, and each player will be subject to at least two random tests every season. Year-round testing will also be expanded, and a player can be subject to random tests no matter how many times he's been previously tested.
This is the second time that the players’ union has opened up the collective bargaining agreement to accommodate steroid testing. While I’m sure Donald Fehr and the players wouldn’t agree, this blogger still feels like the new agreement doesn’t go far enough.
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.