News Briefs: Summer 2001

Silence on the labor front. Although the current CBA expires in two months, the owners and players haven't begun serious talks. Indeed, the owners have yet to agree on a revenue-sharing formula, which will necessarily precede a formal proposal to the players. I suspect there will be more on this subject next issue...

Interleague rotation changed to protect "natural rivalries." The 2002 schedule of interleague play provides for the AL East to play the NL West, with the AL Central playing the NL East and AL West playing the NL Central. But not all of these teams will play one another. The schedule has been changed to protect the six-game, home-and-home series among rivals like the Cubs and White Sox. One casualty of the change: the Yankees' first visit to Dodger Stadium since the 1981 World Series. (After all, who'd want to see the Yankees play the Dodgers if it would mean fewer Devil Rays-Marlins games?)

World Series ticket prices raised. Most box seats will cost $175, up from $160 in 2000, $150 in 1998-99 and $75 in 1997. The price of reserved seats was also raised $15, to $125 and $110, and bleacher seats and general admission rose from $50 to $60. (By comparison, most tickets to the 2001 Super Bowl cost $325. NHL and NBA teams set their own playoff ticket prices.)

Around the Majors

Orioles win $10 million, naming rights in arbitration. The Orioles' lease at Camden Yards guaranteed them parity with any lease given to an NFL team in Baltimore. When the Ravens arrived from Cleveland, owner Peter Angelos compared leases, then went to arbitration. A panel of arbitrators chaired by former FBI director William Webster ruled for the Orioles on two of 11 claims, awarding the team $10 million, the right to sell naming rights to their park, and the right to host non-baseball events

Proposed Wrigley bleacher expansion angers Cub neighbors. The Cubs plan to add over 2,000 bleacher seats by extending the bleachers up and back. The plan has aroused considerable opposition, notably from owners of nearby properties who charge up to $100/person for rooftop game-watching parties. Orioles, DC/Virginia spar over effect of possible Expos move. With one sportswriter reporting that a draft 2002 schedule shows the Expos in Washington, D.C., the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority estimated that the move would cost the Orioles no more than 1,000 fans per game. The group's study claims the Orioles draw only about 13% of their fans from Washington, D.C. and surrounding counties. The Orioles, by contrast, assert that 25-30% of their attendance comes from metropolitan Washington.

Mets' uneasy ownership split may soon be removed. For 15 years, the New York Mets have had one of MLB's most problematic ownership structures. Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon, multimillionaires with decidedly different backgrounds and tastes, each own half of the team. Doubleday, who underwent a liver transplant, last year, is reportedly willing to sell his share to Wilpon If he does, Wilpon will retain majority control but sell smaller pieces of the team to outside investors.

Yankees seek to void Cuban prospect's contract for misrepresenting age. Earlier this year the Yankees signed Cuban defector Andy Morales to a four-year, $4.5 million major league contract. The club announced at the time that Morales was 26 years old, but after he struggled in AA, the Yankees claimed to have learned he was actually 29. They sought to void his contract for fraud. The MLBPA has filed a grievance to block the move, alleging that Morales was actually released for poor performance and that clubs routinely ignore age discrepancies among Latin American players.

Phillies plan November groundbreaking for new ballpark. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia received state funding for their new parks at the same time. The Pirates' new home opened in April; the Phillies have yet to break ground. The Phils insist their 43,000-seat park will be ready for Opening Day 2004. The park, which will be built adjacent to Veterans Stadium, is half of a $1.01 billion project for new baseball and football stadia.

Cardinals strike new stadium deal. The team will contribute $138 million of the estimated $346 million cost of a new 49,000-seat ballpark in downtown St. Louis, with the rest coming from state, county and city bonds. The new park is scheduled to open in 2005. The Cardinals will be responsible for cost overruns, with the state and city receiving the money from naming rights. As part of the package, Cardinals' ownership has agreed to invest $300 million in a commercial/residential development, "Ballpark Village," to be built on the site of Busch Stadium. Legislative approval is required, but the plan does not have to be submitted to the voters. At the press conference called to announce the deal, Commissioner Bud Selig declared that the Cardinals would host the 2006 All-Star Game.

Copyright © 2001 Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Summer 2001 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.

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