Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 15, 2009
BASEBALL: Home Bitter Home

The WSJ looks at how the new Yankee Stadium could end up being seen as a flop:

When new stadiums have flopped in the past -- that is, when the public has come to loathe them or their teams haven't benefited from them -- it's generally been for one of four reasons, say historians, sports executives and fans. Either the stadium catered too much to affluent fans, or too little, or had dimensions or weather conditions that negatively affected play.


The new Yankee Stadium has seemed cursed from the beginning, as if Babe Ruth disapproved of the abandonment of the house he built. That it opened during a recession, with a major-league-high $72.97 average price for a nonpremium ticket (up 76% over 2008, according to Team Marketing Report) has created contempt among fans who otherwise love the team.

It's a bit early to write an obituary. The Hated Yankees still have a deep team and one whose financial advantages make it likely they will be competitive at any give point in the future. It's not the stadium's fault that A-Rod got hurt (or Nady or Posada), or that Rivera and Jeter are showing their age, or that Teixeira is hitting .202, or that Burnett, Wang and Hughes have a collective ERA of 9.39 on the road this year (although the park can be blamed for Sabathia, Pettitte and Joba, who collectively have an ERA of 6.00 at home, where they average 1.31 HR/9 and 4.12 BB/9, compared to an ERA of 2.67 on the road, where they average 0.51 HR/9 and 3.08 BB/9).

The new stadium is, of course, designed not to seem new, unlike Citi Field. The main thing the Yankees need to do, which they have already started, is bring ticket prices in line with economic reality. The rest is likely to simply be a reflection of fans' patience with the product on the field.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

"The main thing the Yankees need to do, which they have already started, is bring ticket prices in line with economic reality."

Exactly. Giving me free tickets would help. As for the rest, I'm not concerned. No doubt the Yankees will soon return to World Series glory.

Posted by: MVH at May 15, 2009 11:09 AM

I'll be curious to see whether the Yankees or, more likely, the Mets, will need to downsize their payrolls next season to adjust to the stadiums underperforming revenue streams. I'm sure both are continuing to exceed what the previous stadiums brought in (although the Yanks did build a smaller park than the one they sold out every day last year, and the Mets built a much smaller park than the one they filled at least some of the time), but they also come with considerably more debt.

I suppose all of baseball will be downsizing payrolls, of course, so it may not really result in any competitive disadvantage. Especially for the Mets, who aren't locked into anything like A-Rod's inescapable deal.

Posted by: Jerry at May 15, 2009 2:36 PM

Their TV network is the cash cow-if I remember corrrectly the money from the games and concessions don't come close to paying their bills.

Posted by: dch at May 15, 2009 2:52 PM


I was sure you were right, but look at these numbers from 2008:

Stadium tickets brought in $117 million in revenue, whereas the YES network brought in $60 million.

Posted by: MVH at May 15, 2009 3:34 PM

Correction- those numbers were for the 2006 season.

Posted by: MVH at May 15, 2009 3:36 PM

Wow! I am wondering if they are only including the money made from Yankeee game broadcasts as opposssed to their other programming.

Posted by: dch at May 15, 2009 4:10 PM

The other possibility is understating the profits from TV. Because the Yankees own the network, they can play some shell games to artificially lower the "revenue" they report for MLB revenue-sharing purposes, eg, by YES underpaying for the rights and keeping the difference. I don't know if that's what they do, but I have seen similar arguments made as to other franchises that share ownership with their TV networks. Whereas ticket and concession revenue is cash you can't fiddle with.

Posted by: Crank at May 15, 2009 4:15 PM

That is exactly what they do, Crank. It came up when some of the equity in the network was shopped by GS a year or two ago. At issue, how much to leave on the table, as that YES kitty gets chopped up by multiple partners.
Still, I'd love to see the cash flow numbers for the new stadium vs the old. I expect the new to be a net drain on resources for years to come. What a shame, the evil empire handicapped themselves.

Posted by: dave at May 15, 2009 6:30 PM
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