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5/15/2020 10:25 am  #1

Baseball's Dilemma

Am curious to see how readers here are weighing in regarding whether baseball can salvage a 1/2 season.  To recap, earlier, players acknowledged that they would not be entitled to receive their full paychecks and subsequently agreed to be paid on a prorated basis.  Say 50% pay to play in 81 games give or take.  The owners have come back and said that while this is a good first step, it is not enough.  Games will be played without fans in attendance, certainly initially and quite possibly for the entire season.  This represents losses in ticket sales, concessions, merchandising and parking.  The owners have proposed a 50/50 split in revenue, which seemingly almost all revenue anticipated to come from broadcast revenues (tv, cable, radio and streaming).  The players will likely balk at this claiming that they will be taking health risks to play these games as well as citing that they do not ask the owners for additional revenue during particularly lucrative years so the owners should not ask for help during a particularly down year.

Like most negotiations, there should be an answer somewhere in between these two things.  I think the players should understand that this is not just a down year but rather, a global pandemic.  Sports fans would like to be entertained and these athletes are in a position to help.  I would have to believe that owners really would lose their shirts this year if the players don't budge.  Owners would likely rather cancel the season, but to do so over a split in money, during these times, would be nothing short of horrible. 

I normally tend to side with players but this one has me wondering why the owners should pay a fully prorated salary when the loss of revenue to them is so anticipated and obvious.  Anyone have an opinion on this?   


5/15/2020 1:16 pm  #2

Re: Baseball's Dilemma

Agreed. The players really need to decide if they want some salary or no salary (no season) and if a salary, then find a number that works for both sides. The problem for baseball is it is much more dependent on fans in the seats than say the NFL. The NFL has a much better TV contract that basically covers the costs of operation for the entire league. The fans and merchandise are mostly profit which is why NFL franchises are so valuable. They even will get TV money if no season is played!

Baseball is much more dependent on fans. Take the St. Louis Cardinals. They have a $1 billion dollar TV contract over 15 years. That averages approximately $66 million per season. Problem is that their payroll is $161 million. So assume no fans, 1/2 a season, and let's say their local TV money is $33 million per season. Also assume they have no attendance revenue but share equally in the national TV contract (assume $18 million per team because league gets a share). If the players take half (80.5 million). They still are in a deep hole with only merchandise and radio rights to make that up (no chance to be even close). Therein lies the problem with MLB. A pro-rated salary can't work or the owners will be in financial trouble.


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