Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
May 11, 2005
Much like two middle school sweethearts exchanging notes in homeroom, a lot has been made about the steroid policy letter exchange between MLB commissioner Bud Selig and union chief Donald Fehr. Selig’s initial letter appears to be more of a public relations ploy than having actual substance as he even signed up former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, to help direct the effort.
Unfortunately for the union, Congress has publicly supported Selig’s plan. He has to be grinning as once again he tries to take it to the player's union. The details of Selig’s steroid plan were discussed last week.
The Business of Baseball website has the full text of both Bud Selig's letter and Donald Fehr’s letter.
RFK Stadium Name Close to Being Revealed
It’s not official, nor is it final, but ProFunds Advisors, an investment firm with their headquarters in Bethesda, is close to a deal that would rename the National's current home stadium to ProFunds Field at RFK. Earlier last month, a deal with the National Guard fell through after the U.S. Senator who oversees the Guard felt it inappropriate to spend money to put their name up on a stadium.
D.C. Hedges Their Bet
The D.C Sports and Entertainment Commission recently acquired a lien that protects the city in the event the Washington Nationals relocate (like it’s happened before). As part of the deal with MLB, the city provided legal authority to seek restitution on any outstanding debt for the proposed ballpark in the event the team moves to a different city. While the language in the initial deal was vague, this lien gives it teeth, and while the lien won’t prevent the team from moving, it will allow the city to recover the amount owed through public financing and could potentially allow the city to liquidate the team to get back its money.
Twins Stadium Deal Faces Race Against the Clock
While the Twins/Hennepin County stadium deal cleared its first road block last week with the expected approval by the county, the bill now goes to the state legislature, where its approval appears imminent. The team and the county already have 42 of the required 68 votes in the bag, and it looks like it will be moving on to the State Senate which also appears to have the votes to push the bill through.
The only thing that can stop the stadium deal from happening is time. Similar to what happened to the Florida Marlins, the state legislature ends their session a week from Friday. If a bill hasn’t been approved by then, it’s unclear when it be taken up again.
Regardless, Carl Pohlad’s multi-year quest to get his team out of the Metrodome appears pretty much a done deal. When it comes to these stadium deals, patience definitely is a virtue. He’ll be getting a $500 million (rounded up) stadium for $120 million, with the local residents footing the rest of the bill. And I’m sure Pohlad will be able to find some way to recoup some of that $120 million.
Marlins Stadium Deal Dead … for Now
Chalk one up for the taxpayers. The Florida State Senate didn’t even bring the stadium to the table due to a lack of support. The primary opposition used the argument that giving tax breaks to millionaires was unfair.
Jeffrey Loria was true to form as the team announced it was looking at its options. First and foremost appears to be Las Vegas’ courtship of the team. Despite the fact that Vegas doesn’t even have a stadium, the Marlins have hinted that they could begin discussions with the city in a couple of weeks in order to strike a deal. Call it Loria's contingency plan if he can't get what he wants.
What’s ironic is for most of the 1980s, when a team didn’t get some sort of sweet deal on their lease or the new stadium they were asking for, a move to Florida was always thrown on the table. Now that Florida has a team, the citizens in that state are now being held to the same sort of financial blackmail (i.e., give us a stadium or we’re leaving). So it appears the Las Vegas is slowly becoming the owners hammer with regard to getting favorable breaks from whatever city, state or county that they’re in.
Yankees Losers Both On and Off the Field
I know they’ve won three straight, but it seems like when it rains, it pours. Last week a shipment of Yankees’ caps was hijacked by thieves. The caps were to be used as a part of their weekend promotion and given away to fans. At least they’re being professional and giving fans who don’t receive their caps a voucher to get one once they can clear the shipping lane of pirates.
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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