Monday, April 2, 2018

All the Opening Weekend News You May Have Missed

Following a Thursday post about Stu Sternberg's latest stadium financing comments, and a Friday post about how the Rays were money behind the "grassroots" campaign for a new Tampa stadium...there was still plenty of opening weekend news to here ya go!
  1. HECK OF AN OPENER: The Rays opened up with an impressive 6-4 comeback win in front of what may be their only sellout crowd this season...only to lose the next three to Boston in nail-biting one-run fashion each.  If you like smallball and strategy, it was a great baseball series.
  2. WHO DAT? WTSP's Eric Glasser reports Rays fans started the season excited...but they don't have any clue who's in that bargain-basement lineup.
  3. TAMPA BAY TIMES FRUSTRATITORIAL:  As predicted, the Times' editorial board reminded us that hope springs eternal on opening day, but the stadium issue needs dealing with.  Its at least the ninth straight year they've written a similar editorial, but weirdly, this one seemed less urgent and doomsday-ish than the others.
  4. TOM JONES: "WHO IS PAYING FOR THE DARN THING?" It's a question this blog has been asking since 2010, so its nice everyone else in town is starting to catch on.
  5. PROPS TO THE TROP: To some, its lipstick on a pig; but to Frank Pastor, there are at least 20 unique reasons to love a trip to the Trop.
  6. PUBLIC SUBSIDY-BASHING: A conservative columnist, writing for the Washington Examiner, uses the Rays as the lead case for why cities should start saying "no" to more teams.
  7. TAMPA BAY 2020: Aside from the Rays money funding a chunk of their effort, I thought the businessmen behind the non-profit trying to lure the team to Tampa came across as sincere and putting their community first.  They make a convincing case for spending public resources on pro sports. But there's no shortage of coverage on that angle :)
  8. STORY THAT AGED WELL: Finally, I'm going to repost a 2017 Joe Henderson opening-weekend column about why the Rays are stuck between a rock and a hard place on the Stadium Saga. Hint: it's the same reason this blog has lamented about for years...neither MLB nor the Rays want to foot the bill.

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  1. If you have a 45,000 seat stadium (per Munsey and Suppes) and cover 14,000 of them with a tarp, is it really a sellout if the sell the remaining 31,000? If the Rays approached MLB with a proposal for a shiny new 31,000 seat park, would MLB even allow a park that small?

  2. Mlb will, and in fact it could be less than 31,000. In reality attendance revenues are a fraction of a percent of all revenue. Attendance is meaningless outside of public perception and media using it as a shouting point.

  3. A fraction of a percent? Less than one percent? Certainly the Rays can turn a profit with their attendance as is, but there is a lot of money in attendance, and probably the largest single piece, more than broadcasting, more than merchandise. The Red Sox, for example, sold almost three million tickets last year at an average of $60 per. That's $175 million, or about 1.5% of all MLB revenues. There were over 72 million tickets sold last year across MLB. At an average of $40 you have $3 billion, or about 25% of all baseball revenues. Add in another $1.5 billion (at $20 per head for ball park food, not counting merch.) and you have $4.5 billion brought in directly by activities at the ballpark, or over 1/3 of all revenues. This does not include merch sold at the ballpark or parking revenues.

  4. Let me update my numbers. Since I was hauling the numbers out of thin air, I wanted to be conservative. It seems I was excessively so.

    The Fan Cost Index for MLB for 2016 was $212, or $106 per person to attend a baseball games, eat some, and buy a couple of caps, a figure that has held steady for a number of years.

    At 72 million tickets per year, MLB is generating $7.6 billion at the ballpark, over 50% of all revenues.

    That said a team with a small payroll, like the Rays, can turn a profit with their meager attendance, with revenue sharing, broadcast rights, and licensing added in. I would assume (and hope) that the MLBPA doesn't roll over and play dead when the next CBA is negotiated and make some sort of effort to compel teams like the Rays and Marlins to at least try not to suck.

    1. Wayne, you are misinterpreting that figure. Its not the average cost of what a family DOES spend...its the average cost of a hypothetical trip to the ballpark. Fans that buy season tickets do not buy 81 caps a year, for instance.

      Here is more on the growing broadcast/digital revenues:

  5. Noah, what you say is partially true. I have friends who have season tickets to Fenway Park. He rarely goes alone, but takes friends with him. Also many season tickets are corporate owned and handed out to employees and clients. The number of season ticket holders who attend 81 home games is probably rather small.

    Also in looking at the numbers I quoted, I did notice that the FCI did not increase between 2015 and 2017, meaning that the growth in revenue from $9 to $10 billion all came from other sources, most definitely broadcasting and MLB Advanced Media.

    That would certainly suggest that the figure I came up with is exaggerated. My sense is that while $$ spent at the ballpark are not 70% as my numbers suggest, but are still within the 30-40% range, making them at worst MLB's number two source of revenue after broadcasting.

    My point, however, is that, while a team like the Rays can turn a profit even with their meager attendance, ballpark generated revenue is still a major source of income for many teams. The Red Sox, for example, can easily afford their $235 M payroll thanks to the $175 M in ticket sales.

    1. You guesstimated. But guesstimated way high. You assume all non-broadcast and digital revenues are from tickets, concessions, and merchandising. But you neglect corporate partnerships, ad revenues, etc. The turnstiles just don't produce the dominant revenue streams they used to.

      I've seen the figures - I just don't have links to share on it.

  6. Noah, interesting that you've seen the figures, which MLB protects as closely as Trump does his tax returns.

    One figure that I have seen is that ticket prices average $28.00 across MLB. 78 million of 'em work out to $2.18 billion. That's almost 22% of all revenue just for tickets. I don't know what they bring in in concessions and merch, but can't imagine that they don't add another 11% at least. That would take ballpark revenues to 33% of all revenue. You are correct that I didn't consider ad revenues. Considering that the bulk of those revenues are at the ballpark and wouldn't exist without butts in the seats, they add to the park figure. Corporate partnerships such as naming rights also would not exist if folks weren't going to games. The money generated at the ballpark just keeps adding up.