Good column in the NYT yesterday about the economics of baseball stadiums.
The Twins are openingtheir own new stadium in 2010. Yest some of their best homegrown talent (Hunter, Santana) won’t be there. Johan, instead, will be the poster boy for the Mets new home.
Of course, part of the issue in Minnesota is ownership. Pohlad would have let the team fold or move before building a new stadium with his own money. I guess that’s how you get to be a billionaire. For their part, the Wilpons are not afraid to spend money these days. Only time will tell if those investments (Beltran, Pedro, Wagner, now Santana et al) will pay off. Here’s an excerpt from the Sandomir article:
“If you’re in Minnesota, I’d think that having the Twins ship out one of their blue-chip players who was a justification for building the ballpark might leave you feeling shortchanged,” Mark Rosentraub, a professor at Cleveland State and an expert in stadium economics, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
He said the ballpark deal — in which a countywide tax would pay about 75 percent of the cost, with the Twins kicking in the rest — was enough to give Carl Pohlad, the nonagenarian billionaire owner, enough money to operate more than competitively.
Rosentraub labeled Pohlad a “profit maximizer,” who would rather make money than win, unlike a “welfare maximizer,” unlike the win-first philosophy of George Steinbrenner
Forbes last year estimated Pohlad’s net worth at $3.1 billion.
The Mets have long been in baseball’s council of the haves, even in frumpy Shea Stadium. They can afford Santana, Citi Field wealth or not. Citi Field will just make things more affordable. The ruling Wilpons can theoretically pledge the annual $20 million naming rights payment from Citigroup to pay for most or all of Santana’s salary.
You can be certain the naming rights for the Twins’ ballpark will not attract anything close to the Mets’ deal.
And that’s part of the cruelty of new-stadium economics. Pittsburgh fans, for example, have learned that PNC Park has not been a financial salvation or the pathway to stocking up on talented, expensive players who will lead them to a winning season. In seven seasons at PNC Park, the Pirates have averaged 69 wins, and their attendance of 1.7 million last year was 28 percent below the 2001 opening-season peak of 2.4 million.
The Pirates have never had a “welfare maximizer” spending what is necessary to win in a market unlike Boston, where cash-rich enhancements to old Fenway Park, and a wildly popular team, demonstrate the potency of wealthy owners in a major market.