News Briefs: Summer 1996

Cincinnati: Swallowing hard, national embarrassment Marge Schott confirmed that John Allen would continue operating the Reds through 1998. Allen, the Reds' controller, took over following Schott's June 12 banishment, but earned Schott's ire for bringing the Reds' marketing department back to the 20th century. For the first time in the Schott Reich, the Reds discounted tickets, hired entertainment and honored stars from the team's past, re-learning the maxim "it takes money to make money."

Detroit: Tiger Stadium's death warrant was signed when the state Supreme Court rejected the Tiger Stadium Fan Club's challenge to the use of state funds to construct a replacement. Soon thereafter the Detroit Lions announced plans to create a downtown sports complex by building a football stadium near the new ballpark.

Houston: Astros' attendance continues to lag behind the 30,000/game owner Drayton MacLane said was required to keep the team in Houston. MacLane released financials indicating that he lost $12 million on the Astros in 1993, $24.1 million in 1994, and $24.5 million in 1995. By contrast, Financial World estimates that the Astros earned $6.7 million in 1993, then lost $8.4 million in 1994 and $4.9 million in 1995. As part of the difference, the Astros' figures almost certainly include depreciation of player contracts and may include interest on the money spent to buy the team. MacLane may also have shifted some profits to the Astrodome, which he also owns; its parent reported $9 million net income over the same period.

Milwaukee: Despite yet another broken promise from Bud Selig, the Brewers will get their new stadium after all. Last fall the Wisconsin legislature agreed to issue $160 million in tax-exempt stadium bonds in reliance on Selig's pledge to pay the remaining $90 million in construction costs. Within months, Selig reported that the Brewers couldn't raise the money -- which prompted several of his fellow owners to suggest he move the team. But a combination of public and private sources has bailed out the Brewers. Under the new plan, the Brewers' promised $90 million contribution includes $20 million from Miller Brewing for naming rights; $10 million from concession revenues; a $10 million letter of credit from the American League; and advances of $15 million in bonds issued by the City of Milwaukee, $14 million from Milwaukee's business community, and $21 million in loans from local foundations...with no up-front cash from the Brewers.

Sacramento: Huh? Well, not yet, but the California legislature has created a regional authority. Its mission: attract a team, then persuade voters to approve at least $250 million in bonds to build that team a stadium. The nearby Oakland A's seem the likeliest candidate..

San Francisco: The Giants announced plans to raise $40 million of their new stadium's cost through a one-time sale of seat licenses. Licenses for the 13,700 best seats in the house will be sold for $1,500-$7,500 each, entitling the purchaser to permanent renewal rights.

Copyright © 1996 Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Summer 1996 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.

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