BOB: Owners’ meeting updateby Brian Borawski
May 22, 2013
Owners’ meeting rundownLast week, major league owners held their quarterly meeting. There was a lot of speculation about instant replay, but what actually happened was anti-climactic. In a great piece by Danny Knobler, he writes about how it looks like replay is now on the way. The big question is how long it’s going to take. MLB executive vice president Joe Torre and his committee on instant replay gave a presentation but said they had no recommendations at this time.
There was also a lot of speculation that team personnel pensions would be cut in a vote last week but that never happened. There was a discussion on pensions at the meeting, but MLB executive vice-president Rob Manfred said pensions for non-uniform personnel weren't going anywhere. It looks like one of the ideas on the table was to give teams more flexibility to have a pension system that works best for each team.
Wrigley Field renovation PR machine in full forceNow that there’s the framework of a renovation deal in place, the Chicago Cubs have ramped up their public relations efforts to try to procure some major changes to historic Wrigley Field. Their latest attempt is setting up WrigleyField.com and under the title “Restore Wrigley Field,” fans will be able to view artist’s renderings of the changes to the ballpark and sign a petition so everyone can see how many people support the renovations.
There’s also a section that outlines the $500 million in stadium renovations and the new hotel that’s planned near the ballpark. There’s also a “Frequently Asked Questions” section that covers everything from the economic impact on the city (at least what the team thinks) to what the Cubs will do while the renovations are taking place.
One of the renovation concerns has been parking. The team commissioned a traffic study to help come up with a plan. Right now the Cubs have just 4,785 parking spots within a mile of the park.
MiLB has banner merchandise salesMinor League Baseball had its third best year in 2012 with $54 million in licensed merchandise sold for the year. That’s the third best mark ever, topped by only 1994 and 2008. In 1994, Michael Jordan's time with the Birmingham Barons resulted in close to $60 million in sales. The next best year was 2008 with $54.7 million, which was also the best year attendance-wise for Minor League Baseball—and it was the year the economy fell through the floor.
The $54 million sold in 2012 was a 3.3 percent increase from the year before. MiLB's director of licensing said that having so many stores in a unified front on MiLB.com has played a big role in growing the brands of individual clubs and the league as a whole.
Attendance updateAttendance has been dominated by the National League, with the top three marks held by senior circuit teams. At the top are the Los Angeles Dodgers—although if they continue to flounder you wonder how long that will last. The top American League team is the Texas Rangers, with the New York Yankees coming in at number six.
The Cleveland Indians are still at the bottom but you wonder with their current hot streak whether they’ll pass the second-to-last-place Tampa Bay Rays. The bottom National League team is the Miami Marlins at 28th.
My favorite place to check out the attendance numbers is at ESPN.com’s resource page.
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.
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