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With season delay, MLB teams feeling the pinch

Major League BaseballThere is nothing sadder than a closed ballpark during baseball season, and at a time when we’re supposed to celebrating the start of the 2020 MLB season, teams are feeling shutdown pain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s increasingly looking like the beginning of the MLB season won’t happen any time soon. Though everyone is optimistic about an earlier launch to the season, there’s a wide assumption that the July 3-5 weekend is a reasonable target date both for MLB and MiLB–what better story could be told than the revival of America’s Pastime on the 4th of July? Until then, the sport is operating with no game-day revenues, and teams are feeling the pinch. From KMOV:

“This could add up quickly the more games that are missed,” Patrick Rishe said. He is the director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University.

He estimates the Cardinals will lose roughly two point seven million in fan spending per game.

“2.7 million a game,” Rishe said. “Well if they miss 10 home games that’s 27 million dollars.”

The Atlanta Braves report quarterly revenues under Liberty Media ownership. In the second quarter of 2019 (which encompassed 41 home games over the first half of the season), the Braves reported $4.8 million in baseball revenue per home game. The number includes ballpark operations, local and national broadcast rights (which comes out to under $1.6 million or so per home game), and licensing and other shared MLB revenue streams, per the quarterly report, but doesn’t include revenue generated from The Battery. Given the rabid Cardinals fan base, it’s hard to see that St. Louis generates less per home game. Now, the assumption is that some missed home games will be made up, but in circumstances (hosting in neutral sites with no fans in the stands) that don’t yield much revenue.

Despite the revenue hit, MLB teams continue with charitable efforts. Beyond the $1 million pledged by each MLB team to assist game-day employees, the San Francisco Giants have pledged an additional $700,000 for the 2,600 workers staffing Oracle Park for events. The details are here. The Minnesota Twins have augmented the $1 million pledged for game-day employees by an additional $200,000 and begun distribution of the funds. The Miami Marlins Foundation launched a Home Plate Meals Relief Fund with an initial investment of $100,000, designed to address urgent food security issues across the South Florida community due to COVID-19. Miami Marlins partner Florida Blue joined the Foundation’s efforts and contributed $50,000 to the Home Plate Meals Relief Fund, bringing the total to $150,000. The Houston Astros, in association with Crane Worldwide (owned by Astros owner Jim Crane), has focused on fast and safe delivery of critical medical supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from across the globe to the Houston hospitals within the Texas Medical Center. Additionally, the Astros Foundation will donate $400,000 to support the hospitals within the Texas Medical Center. Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays and USL Championship’s Tampa Bay Rowdies are donating up to 2.5 million meals to Feeding Tampa Bay. The donation, made from the Rays Baseball Foundation and Rowdies Soccer Fund, begins with a commitment to 1 million meals and a pledge to match all donations to the virtual food drive webpage, up to an additional 1.5 million meals.

With hourly news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’re launching a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.

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