Red Sox out for money in woeful economy

Red Sox out for money in woeful economy

Firebrand AL

Red Sox out for money in woeful economy

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Earlier today for MVN Outsider, I commented on the poor economy and how the Arizona Diamondbacks are taking steps to ensure that the consumer can still afford to go to a game while clubs such as our beloved Red Sox are content to squeeze us out of every last dollar. Some relevant excerpts:

In a feature by FORTUNE Magazine, the magazine tackles the economic issues facing the nation today and relates how the Arizona Diamondbacks — calling Phoenix home, a city with the lowest per capita income of any MLB city — are taking steps to protect their product.

Now, while making concessions that Boston has a far more rabid fanbase and more economically stable climate, what does it say about the Red Sox (and other similar market teams such as the New York Yankees) that a t-shirt costs $30 dollars while it costs $8 in Arizona?

Think about this for a second. I could either buy one Red Sox shirt for $30 or three (3) Diamondbacks shirts for $24.

Just a few years ago, Red Sox t-shirts were $20. It was still pretty high, but it was enough for me not to hesitate to buy a few t-shirts. And by a few, I mean a lot. Since they’ve raised it to $30, I’ve bought maybe… one? I might not even have bought any; I’m not sure. It’s just too rich.

That’s not all:

Not to keep bashing the Red Sox, but consider that they’re asking the residents of Fort Myers, Florida — in a region where the foreclosure rate is abominably high — to subsidize a new spring training stadium despite nothing being wrong with the current stadium. Oh, sure, there are small issues here and there, but I would think the club would be far more interested in making sure parents can send their kids to Little League and have actual, competent teachers in schools to shape their lives.

Bob Ryan had great commentary on this the other day. A few excerpts from his article:

How can the Red Sox even think about hitting up the local taxpayers for a facility estimated to cost between $50 million and $75 million, especially when, no matter what they say, they simply do not need it? They simply want what others have.

For me, the most eloquent person was Albert Sengeto of Fort Myers. A sample of his presentation:

“The state and county are both suffering a budget shortfall. They want our underpaid teachers to take a salary cut or face layoffs. We are highlighted in the national news as an example of the recession with 10 percent unemployment . . . Newly built strip malls sit empty . . . home foreclosures are overwhelming the county. All branches of county employees face layoffs. Businesses are closing everywhere. With all this going on, the biggest problem for our elected officials appears to be where to build a ballpark for the Red Sox.”…

How bad are things here? The local Little Leagues are reporting a severe drop in enrollment because so many families cannot afford the registration fees. So instead of allowing the Lee County authorities to prostrate themselves at their feet, the Red Sox, who have benefited so greatly over the past 16 years from the generosity of the Fort Myers community, should step up and subsidize those registration fees for the families having such a hard time.

I love the guys on the field. Pedroia, Papelbon, everyone else on that field give all they can to entertain us fans. They’re also fighting for more dollars (especially Papelbon) as they’re well aware that the owners have the money to give it. The dollar figures may seem obscene to us, but we can all understand the thought process behind it.

I also have immense respect for the Henry ownership group. They took over a franchise that once had glory years but was all too content to be an “average” team. Not being fan and media-friendly; not taking steps to enhance Fenway Park, the cathedral of baseball; not tapping the vast New England market more.

Henry and Co. did all that and more. They saved and resuscitated Fenway Park. I will always be thankful for that. They brought in bright minds to make the Sox a powerhouse (and one that replenishes itself through the farm system). I will always be thankful for that. They tapped the New England (and beyond) market which increased awareness in the team and also increased profits. And to Henry’s credit, most of the profits have been put back into the team. Also, understand this: it’s a business. Businesses are not successful unless they make money.

But there’s a place where we all have to go, “Whoa, wait a second.”

What place would you suggest this be if not the second worst economical depression in America’s history (if not the world’s history)? Heck, people are forecasting that the 2010 year will be worse.

And the Sox are asking for $125 tickets? $30 T-shirts? $5-10 food and beverages?

I’m sorry, but I’m not going to rush out and congratulate the Sox for holding ticket prices steady a year after announcing that those $125 field box seats would become “premium” seats in 2009 and have cushions added to the seats. The new price? $200.

Would it make financial sense for the Sox to take their push for a new spring training home, paid with city money, off the docket and instead subsidize the Little League fees for children? Of course not.

It would create a ton of goodwill, and lord knows the Sox are among the sports franchises that do just that with the Red Sox Foundation… but a new spring training home will offer upgraded amenities, reduced travelling time and a larger stadium to… you got it, bring more money into the coffers.

Ya know, I’d listen a lot more respectfully to John Henry’s (and other owners) calls for a salary cap if they weren’t printing money and hoping to use the cap as an excuse to pocket more money.

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