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Full Version: Cleveland Indians' financial woes... and there's no place to go
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Article in The Athletic today about the sorry state of the Cleveland Indians' finances and their ownership situation:

The Indians’ future in Cleveland: Relocation questions, ownership status, payroll and more in the spotlight

Apparently there is no imminent threat to move the franchise, and the majority ownership is local. But attendance is very bad and the payroll scrapes the bottom of MLB.
Quote:Cleveland is the 19th-largest media market in the country, per Nielsen, and the smallest to field an MLB, NFL and NBA team. Pittsburgh, the 26th-largest market, does have MLB, NFL and NHL representation. The Pirates and Indians own MLB’s two lowest payrolls.
Quote:“The biggest lever,” a source said, “is still and always will be winning. … In reality, (the front office is) operating as well as any human being could ever operate. The danger, or if you’re looking for a warning, is the fact that they’re operating that way and still haven’t drawn that many people. That’s not a criticism of Cleveland. It’s a reflection of the size of the market.

"The size of the market." There's the big problem for MLB owners: There are no can't-miss markets to move to. Cleveland's market is too small? Oops -- it's a larger media market than every possible relocation or expansion market.

Nielsen market sizes for the largest markets without MLB:

Orlando -- 1,731,360 households with TV
Sacramento -- 1,459,260

Portland (OR) -- 1,315,470
Charlotte -- 1,290,660
Raleigh/Durham -- 1,237,230

Indianapolis -- 1,182,500
Nashville -- 1,102,340
Salt Lake City -- 1,100,260
San Antonio -- 1,031,180
Hartford/New Haven -- 1,002,710

Columbus (OH) -- 999,300
Greenville -- 940,000
Austin -- 912,400
West Palm Beach -- 870,720
Las Vegas -- 833,510

Grand Rapids -- 781,080
Harrisburg (PA) -- 772,810
Jacksonville -- 756,960
Oklahoma City -- 755,340
Birmingham -- 730,440

Norfolk -- 725,580
Greensboro -- 717,110
Albuquerque/Santa Fe -- 716,800
Louisville -- 696,070
New Orleans -- 663,520

Memphis -- 619,610
Providence -- 619,140
Buffalo -- 612,780
Ft. Myers/Naples -- 608,640
Fresno/Visalia -- 607,200

Orlando and Sacramento are in italics because they're not possible candidates as long as the Rays and A's are where they are. The Rays could conceivably move to Orlando, or the A's could conceivably move to Sacramento, but otherwise those markets aren't candidates. Columbus is also not realistic with the Indians and Reds already in Ohio, maybe unless the Indians move there, but that doesn't seem to be an option. Many of the other markets listed above are also too close to current MLB clubs to ever get approved as either relocation or expansion cities.

So when an established market like Cleveland that already has a solid MLB ballpark is "too small" to support three "major" pro franchises, the realistic options (or threats) are very limited. Many of the smaller-than-Cleveland markets listed above already have at least one "major" franchise, and some already have two.
MLB really needs to institute minimum and maximum payrolls. It'll probably never happen, but it would be good for the sport.
Supporting an MLB team is a lot tougher than supporting the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLS. There’s 81 home games and many of them are on weeknights. It takes a lot of support and a large population to fill seats under those circumstances.

If management/ownership is a dumpster fire and the on field product isn’t great, it’s tough to command support in your market.

MLB keeps talking expansion, when truth be told, there’s a lot of struggling franchises out there. Relocation to smaller markets is NOT the answer. There might be a short burst of enthusiasm in the new town but the small market teams are going to have similar struggles.
I've said for a long time that part of the problem with baseball is that there's too much of it. They have too many games and they literally go at it everyday.

Part of the reason football is more popular is because it's more scarce. There's excitement in anticipating the coming big game and you don't have to dedicate nearly as much time.

The scarcity also ups the importance of each game.
(07-12-2021 04:36 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote: [ -> ]MLB really needs to institute minimum and maximum payrolls. It'll probably never happen, but it would be good for the sport.

Yup - with greater revenue sharing.
(07-13-2021 11:47 AM)dbackjon Wrote: [ -> ]
(07-12-2021 04:36 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote: [ -> ]MLB really needs to institute minimum and maximum payrolls. It'll probably never happen, but it would be good for the sport.

Yup - with greater revenue sharing.

The minimums would have to be really high in order to justify more revenue sharing; otherwise low-spending team owners will just keep pocketing the revenue sharing money rather than paying for a payroll at or near the MLB median.

Cleveland is a good example. The Indians have the lowest payroll in MLB, yet their team revenue isn't anywhere near the lowest. Their team revenue (ie not including revenue sharing or the national revenue divided among the 30 clubs) is significantly higher than that of (for example) the A's, D-Backs, and Tigers, yet the Indians' 2021 payroll is more than $30 million less than any of those three teams. Indians' fans should be disgusted. And MLB should not enable that with more revenue sharing.

Maybe a condition of receiving any revenue sharing money should be adherence to a minimum payroll that is at least 90 percent of the MLB median payroll. If an owner wants to pinch pennies, then he ought to have to do it without receiving even a dime of revenue sharing money.
(07-13-2021 12:19 PM)Wedge Wrote: [ -> ]
(07-13-2021 11:47 AM)dbackjon Wrote: [ -> ]
(07-12-2021 04:36 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote: [ -> ]MLB really needs to institute minimum and maximum payrolls. It'll probably never happen, but it would be good for the sport.

Yup - with greater revenue sharing.

The minimums would have to be really high in order to justify more revenue sharing; otherwise low-spending team owners will just keep pocketing the revenue sharing money rather than paying for a payroll at or near the MLB median.

Cleveland is a good example. The Indians have the lowest payroll in MLB, yet their team revenue isn't anywhere near the lowest. Their team revenue (ie not including revenue sharing or the national revenue divided among the 30 clubs) is significantly higher than that of (for example) the A's, D-Backs, and Tigers, yet the Indians' 2021 payroll is more than $30 million less than any of those three teams. Indians' fans should be disgusted. And MLB should not enable that with more revenue sharing.

Maybe a condition of receiving any revenue sharing money should be adherence to a minimum payroll that is at least 90 percent of the MLB median payroll. If an owner wants to pinch pennies, then he ought to have to do it without receiving even a dime of revenue sharing money.

I agree. However much revenue sharing money a team receives should be the very least that they'd be required to spend on payroll.
(07-13-2021 12:19 PM)Wedge Wrote: [ -> ]
(07-13-2021 11:47 AM)dbackjon Wrote: [ -> ]
(07-12-2021 04:36 PM)Nerdlinger Wrote: [ -> ]MLB really needs to institute minimum and maximum payrolls. It'll probably never happen, but it would be good for the sport.

Yup - with greater revenue sharing.

The minimums would have to be really high in order to justify more revenue sharing; otherwise low-spending team owners will just keep pocketing the revenue sharing money rather than paying for a payroll at or near the MLB median.

Cleveland is a good example. The Indians have the lowest payroll in MLB, yet their team revenue isn't anywhere near the lowest. Their team revenue (ie not including revenue sharing or the national revenue divided among the 30 clubs) is significantly higher than that of (for example) the A's, D-Backs, and Tigers, yet the Indians' 2021 payroll is more than $30 million less than any of those three teams. Indians' fans should be disgusted. And MLB should not enable that with more revenue sharing.

Maybe a condition of receiving any revenue sharing money should be adherence to a minimum payroll that is at least 90 percent of the MLB median payroll. If an owner wants to pinch pennies, then he ought to have to do it without receiving even a dime of revenue sharing money.


Agreed -90% of median would work. Salary Cap would need to be low enough to force some of the big market teams to shed players
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