If there are no fans in the stands during the 2020 season, the St. Louis Cardinals are projected to lose big. $136M to be specific.
Yikes, that is a big number. If there are no fans in 2020, the St. Louis Cardinals will not be cash-positive.
That is not the most surprising thing though as with no fans paying to get in and no fans able to spend time at Ballpark Villiage spending money.
This $136M number came from a recent Associated Press document titled, “Economics of Playing Without Fans in Attendance.” According to ESPN’s article on it, that figure comes from estimations of losses both without fans and if the teams are paying players full prorated salary.
All of this is to be used as leverage in the league’s negotiations with the players trying to come to an agreement on compensation for the players coming back in a shortened season.
In March, the players agreed to a prorated salary should the league reopen, but now the owners want them to split revenues 50/50 should the season return. That would mean that the players would make even less.
On the breakdown of normal revenue streams for each MLB team, they said 39% came from the gate, 25% central revenue, 22% local media, 11% sponsorship, and 4% other.
This truly isn’t good for any MLB team, but the main question I keep coming back to is this: should we care?
Right off the bat, I say not at all. The owners have had closed books for years, not letting the players know just how much they have been making. Even if everyone did know, the players still would just make what their contracts say they are making.
Owners have been privatizing the nearly constant profits for years and now in one year where there are sure to be losses, the owners want to socialize the losses.
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If the players and owners had been more on each other’s side throughout the years, the players would probably have more of a willingness to work with the owners. But with the two sides butting heads and not “scratching each other’s backs” for years, the players have no incentive to play ball.
The rising tide raises all ships, but if the owners use the players’ contracts as an anchor to keep their compensation stable, the owners are the only ones getting the massive benefits of how popular baseball has been.
Already, this is beginning to look like it’s getting ugly between the players and owners. There’s no end in sight, especially when Tony Clark said there would be “war” if the owners proposed exactly what they are proposing.
The Cardinals were right in the middle as far as teams losing money are concerned. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees ($312M) and the Dodgers ($232M) were the highest losers. At the bottom of the list were the Tigers ($84M) and Orioles ($90M).
Both sides have a great incentive to get this passed though. Owners would collectively lose $4B if no season is played at all, and the players would not get any more money at all. Now, it’s down to see who blinks first.
There will be lasting effects from this season regardless of how players get paid.
Both sides are still posturing and jockeying for position and leverage on the other. They have a common interest and the general consensus is that an agreement will be reached, it just may take a few weeks. Be patient, it’ll get done eventually.