New TV contract to benefit Cardinals


With many teams signing hugely lucrative television deals, the feeling among “Cardinal Nation” was that the St. Louis Cardinals would not join in on the fun.

That saying isn’t entirely true anymore, at least not after 2017.

The Cardinals and Fox Sports Midwest agreed to a 15-year deal worth $1 billion for broadcast rights, starting with the 2018 season. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals would become the eighth team in Major League Baseball to have a rights contract over $1 billion.

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The most recent team to ink a deal was the Arizona Diamondbacks, who signed a 20-year deal with Fox Sports Arizona valued at $1.5 billion. The record belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose $8.35 billion, 25-year contract is regarded as the gold standard among exorbitant rights fees.

This move should not come as a surprise. You can find Cardinals gear in such diverse states as Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. It is believed Fox Sports Midwest broadcasts branch out over 10 states and garner some of the highest ratings.

Local fans are crazy for the Cardinals too. During the full year you see college gear on many fans as well as St. Louis Blues hockey jerseys. However, most everything centers around the Cardinals, even in the November-January period.

Attendance at Busch Stadium has been over three million every season since the new park opened in 2006. Ticket sales should top 3.4 million this year. This translates to a healthy payroll somewhere in the $115-$125 million range when all is said and done.

Rights fees are projected at $35 million for the 2017 campaign, but they jump to $55 million in the following year and keep climbing. Conceivably, this could lead to payrolls in the $150 million range or higher, enough to keep the top players and make a run at decent free agents.

In short, it could be a decent time to be a free agent in St. Louis once the TV deal kicks in.