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The gate for a baseball team isn’t just tickets: there’s also parking and concessions and local merchandise to account for. And yet, just from tickets, the 2022 Yankees raked in $345 million. That’s not a rumor, it’s from a market disclosure the Yankees had to send to the state of New York, which owns Yankee Stadium thanks to the whole publicly funded thing. Via Sportico:
Despite the jump in revenue last season, the Yankees appear to have had ticket revenue peak in 2009, the year the new Yankee Stadium opened and the last season the team won the World Series. That year, the club sold around $400 million in tickets, according to information compiled by Fitch Ratings. However, data isn’t disclosed for the prior Yankee Stadium, which had greater capacity and drew over 4 million fans annually before it closed. The nadir of ticket sales at the new Yankee Stadium was in 2016, when the team sold $231 million in tickets and didn’t make the playoffs.
The bond market disclosures count only ticket and suite sales, and therefore exclude any money made by the team from broadcasting, merchandise, concessions and other income.
The worst season under this version of Yankee Stadium still pulled in $231 million in tickets? That says a lot about how this works. This is also a good time to point out that by MLB’s own leaks and admissions, we know the gate accounts for roughly 40 percent of team revenue in a given season — well, 40 percent of reported revenue, which isn’t all revenue, but it’s the number to use to play along with MLB’s own closed books. So, using that figure as a base, we know that in 2022 the Yankees made [scribbles out some complicated math] a shitload of money.
Hey, remember a few weeks back when I said that the wealthiest teams were probably just as mad at the Padres for their spending as the ones more on the Padres’ supposed financial level?
Other teams which are participating in this league primarily because they get revenue-sharing dollars just for showing up are obviously aghast and confused at this turn of events out of San Diego, and I’d imagine the wealthier owners with higher revenues don’t appreciate the fact that Peter Seidler has shown that the Padres — despite being eligible for revenue-sharing due to their market — are currently projected to begin the 2023 season $39 million over the luxury tax threshold (all salary data via Cot’s Contracts). The rival Dodgers are projected for just $11 million over; the Yankees, $55.5 million, the Phillies $18 million over, the Angels nearly $11 million under, the Red Sox $22 million under. If the Padres with all their carefully practiced and repeated small-market limitations can go $39 million over the threshold while still attempting to retain Manny Machado into the future during his option year, then the supposedly richer teams — the big bad spenders whose disparity in riches with the poor, poor small-market clubs supposedly influenced the creation of the economic reform committee in the first place — should clearly be spending even more than they do. The Padres are much “worse” for the rest of the league and their preferences than the Mets are, in this regard: hence, the conversations Manfred said need to take place, even if he’s not exactly being honest about what those conversations are actually about.
The Yankees are spending, it’s true: as it says above, they’re $55.5 million over the base luxury tax threshold. When they’re pulling in nearly $350 million just from ticket sales in a given year, though… well, it’s clear they could be putting more into their team than they do, grabbing whatever seeming final piece they need basically regardless of cost. There are limits, of course — hello, “Steve Cohen tax” with its 110 percent of inflicted punishment, your time will come — but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s fair to wonder why the Yankees don’t spend even more than they do, or why the Dodgers feel the need to attempt to reset the tax instead of just avoiding triggering the top-end punishments by rolling back a little bit, and so on. If the Padres can afford it at their prices, in their market, then there’s little excuse for the Yankees et al to be in the same universe as them, payroll-wise.
The other owners and league want harsher penalties on the Steve Cohens (of which there’s really just the one, but hey, they might accidentally let another ultra-wealthy dude who wants to win into the league by accident in the future) so that clubs like the Yankees have an excuse to not go all-in like they could. They want to convince the Padres to not act like they are, so fans of teams who felt like they had an economic kinship with San Diego don’t start to wonder why their team still stinks and isn’t chasing anyone on the expensive end of the free agent market. We know, though, thanks to disclosures like this one, just what kind of money is floating around in the game. And that even if the Yankees are pulling in more than everyone else, being in New York and with New York pricing and all, it’s clear that the other teams selling loads of tickets aren’t hurting, either.
And the Padres? After rocketing up the attendance rankings and seeing “unprecedented” demand for season tickets in 2023, they’re reminding us that if you want to sell tickets, you should probably put in some effort to have a watchable product on the field. A good team can pay for itself, if you let it, that’s the secret that’s supposed to stay that way.
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