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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 14:27 GMT
Owners highlight losses
Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Homer Bush
Toronto had baseball's largest operating loss at $52.9m
World Series winners the Arizona Diamondbacks had an operating loss of $32.2m this year.

Major League Baseball had an overall operating loss of $232m, including $52.9m incurred by the Toronto Blue Jays alone.

The figures are contained in a report which was due to be handed to the US Congress on Thursday.


Is it a fair representation of the economic state of the game? I think the answer to that is clearly yes
Sandy Alderson
MLB executive vice-president of operations
Eleven of the MLB's 30 teams had operating profits before revenue sharing, led by the New York Yankees at $40.9m.

Baseball's operating loss came on record revenue of $3.5bn.

The report showed an additional loss of $112m in interest costs, which includes borrowing to fund team's payments for new ballparks.

An additional $174m is added in depreciation of teams' asset value - resulting in an overall loss of $519m.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig will present the report, along with other financial breakdowns, when he testifies Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee.

Revenue sharing

Legislation to eliminate baseball's 79-year-old anti-trust exemption was introduced in the House and Senate following the vote by major league owners last month to eliminate two teams before next season.

While no teams were selected, the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins are likely candidates, and Minnesota's congressional delegation pushed for the hearing.

  Anti-trust legislation
Prohibits actions that unreasonably restrain competition
1922: Supreme Court rules law does not apply to baseball.
Baseball is only US sport with exemption.
Exempt status upheld in 1953 and 1972.
1998: Players' Association given same rights as unions in other major sports.
Montreal had an operating loss of $38.5m, which was cut to $10m after revenue sharing - the redistribution of money from high-revenue teams to low-income clubs.

Minnesota had a $18.5m operating loss, which became a $536,000 operating profit after the share-out.

The Yankees paid $26.5m, the most of the 30 teams, cutting their operating profit to $14.3m on revenue of $242m.

Baseball's operating loss, while high, was not a record.

In 1994, when players went on strike during August and the World Series was canceled for the first time in 90 years, the sport had an operating loss of $363.7m.

Clashed

Congress, which has historically deferred to baseball owners, is not likely to pass a baseball anti-trust bill anytime soon.

But the introduction of the legislation set the stage for another trip to Capitol Hill by Selig, who has clashed with congressmen at several hearings in recent years.

The players' association is often dubious of claims of losses.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig
Selig wants to keep baseball's anti-trust exemption
But while the figures have not been audited, baseball's early accounting has usually been within 5% of the final totals.

Owners want major concessions from the players' union, as they have had in each negotiation since the 1976 labour contract that created the current system of free agency and salary arbitration.

Since 1976, the average salary has risen 42-fold, from $51,000 to about $2.15m, while baseball's revenue has grown 19-fold from $182m.

Since the 1922 US Supreme Court decision that created the anti-trust exemption, Congress has altered it just once.

In 1998, lawmakers approved a bill signed by President Clinton that made labour relations of major league players subject to anti-trust laws.

But the change meant little because the Supreme Court ruled two years earlier that unionised employees may not file anti-trust suits.

See also:

28 Nov 01 |  US Sport
New deal for Selig
06 Nov 01 |  US Sport
Franchises under threat
07 Nov 01 |  US Sport
Baseball spoils the party
07 Nov 01 |  US Sport
Players swing into action
29 Oct 01 |  US Sport
Major League teams under threat
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