Monday, August 23, 2010

Rays Stadium Saga: Leaked Financial Documents

Today, Deadspin released some uber-exclusive MLB financial documents that relate directly to the Rays...and therefore, their campaign for a new stadium. Continue to watch Maury Brown at the Business of Baseball, he'll probably have the best analysis anywhere over the course of the week.

As for my thoughts, I think the biggest damage is to MLB's psyche. The league guards these documents (if, in fact, authentic) extremely carefully and - as evidenced by its "no comment" today - can't be happy with their release.

There don't appear to be any monumental surprises with regards to the Rays' documents. Despite The Trop's limited revenue streams and less-than-stellar attendance numbers, the team still manages to turn a profit.

Rays fans should also relish the fact that the team is pouring much of its revenue back into the product - apparently better than the Pirates and their smallest-in-the-MLB payroll.

The Pirates took the very unorthodox step of releasing additional numbers yesterday when the story broke in an attempt to "show their hand" and explain their penny-pinching ways.

Just don't expect the Rays to open up any more of their books anytime soon - they too had a "no comment" today.

The documents showed the Rays made modest profits in 2007 and 2008, but compared to the profits of many NFL teams, they were rather small. It's just the nature of the sport and business model.

Some fans' will nevertheless react negatively to the documents if they feel baseball owners owe something to the communities their teams play in. Some believe owners should spend every available cent on making their team a winner. Others believe there's no obligation whatsoever since it's a private business.

Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle, which is why the modest profits don't really surprise me. Stu Sternberg and the Rays have done a good job of maintaining both their business plan and a successful team.

However, I'm also expecting this episode to come back to haunt the Rays at some point if their standoff with the City of St. Pete gets nasty this off-season.


  1. That is my problem at the end...This information being released and the typical "no comment" can be perceived as arrogance. Very prophetic in regards to the Rays and St. Pete as I completely agree it will bite them in the behind.

  2. If ownership pays for their own stadium they can do what ever they want but if they accept tax payer money for a new stadium they either owe the money back plus interest or to make real efforts read spend money in order to win that is the least they could do for the welfare they are receiving.