Despite On-Field Slump, Sox Earned More in '96

Last year, Sox fans saw their hopes for a repeat title dashed by June, but John Harrington cried all the way to the bank. According to Financial World's annual survey of Major League Baseball finances, the Red Sox earned more money in 1996 than in their division-winning 1995. The Sox' market value also increased 20%, to $172 million. So much for the claim that they couldn't afford to re-sign Roger Clemens...

Here's how the Sox compared to their rivals.

Gate receipts. Last year the Red Sox took in $27.1 million at the gate: sixth highest out of 28 teams, but only fourth in the AL East. The Orioles set the pace with $51million in gate receipts, while the 53109 Tigers earned only $12.4 million.

Media revenues. Only two teams’ books earned more from national and local broadcasting than the Red Sox’ $30.9 million. But the Yankees, one of those clubs, received more than twice as much, with $69.8 million. The Milwaukee Brewers trailed with $15.1 million.

Stadium revenues. In 1996 the Red Sox earned $16.4 million from luxury boxes, parking and concessions, good for 10th in the majors. Although most of the clubs with new parks earned at least $5 million more, led by the Texas Rangers with $25.5 million, the Red Sox remained comfortably above the major league average of $12.6 million. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays received only $3.1 million from SkyDome.

Overall revenues. Red Sox revenues of $88.4 million ranked sixth, behind the Yankees ($133.3 million), Orioles, Rockies, Indians and Dodgers. Ten clubs took in $50 million or less, with the Pirates receiving only $39.9 million.

Player expenses. The 1996 Red Sox payroll of $42.2 million ranked 10th in the majors. Not surprisingly, the Yankees led with $63 million, while the Brewers trailed with $17.5 million.

Administrative expenses. With $30 million in overhead, the Red Sox and White Sox tied for sixth most expensive front office. The Dodgers set the pace with $36 million in administrative costs, while the penny-pinching Reds spent only $14 million.

Operating income. Financial World estimates that the 1996 Red Sox earned $16.3 million, up $0.9 million from 1995. The Blue Jays, who outbid the Sox for Clemens, earned $1.8 million less.

Again confounding Bud Selig and the doomsayers, the average club earned $7.3 million in 1996. Selig’s own Milwaukee Brewers and the "impoverished" Montreal Expos each earned over $6 million. Even the Pirates and Tigers turned a profit.

Meanwhile, Wayne Huizenga has put the Florida Marlins up for sale, claiming that the team will lose $30 million in 1997. Financial World says the Marlins earned $2.8 million last year. In my next column, I'll explain how owners like Huizenga hide income and inflate their losses to make Major League Baseball appear much less profitable than it actually is.

Most and Least Profitable Teams in 1996

In the Black

1. Yankees ($38.3 million): World Champs off the diamond as well

2. Rockies ($23.0 million): Not bad for MLB's 4th smallest market

3. Orioles ($19.0 million): Peter Angelos still has money to spend

4. Rangers ($18.9 million): Most luxury-box income in the majors

5. Cubs ($18.3 million): Hugely profitable when bad, so little incentive to improve

6. RED SOX ($16.3 million): Earned more in '96 than in division-winning '95 season

In the Red

24. Mariners (-$1.7 million): An $8.1 million improvement from 1995

25. White Sox (-$5.2 million): Reinsdorf now less popular than Steinbrenner

26. Giants (-$6.0 million): New stadium to the rescue in 1999

27. Phillies (-$6.4 million): For most of 1996, DL had higher payroll than active roster

28. Reds (-$14.0 million): Is Schottzie 02 running this team?

Most and Least Valuable Teams in 1996

1. Yankees ($241 million)

2. Orioles ($207 million)

3. Braves ($199 million)

4. Rockies ($184 million)

5. Dodgers ($178 million)


8. RED SOX ($172 million)


24. Royals ($88 million)

25. Padres ($86 million)

26. Expos ($77 million)

27. Twins ($77 million)

28. Pirates ($71 million)

Copyright © 1997 Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the July 1997 issue of Boston Baseball.

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