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The public face of the Dodgers now rests with Stan Kasten as their president and co-owner. On Monday we caught up with him at the Winter Meetings and asked him about his new position in LA; how the ownership group was assembled; what Magic Johnson brings to the table, and; how that massive TV deal factors into what the Dodgers do, not only now, but years to come.

Few recent club sales have altered the landscape in Major League Baseball as quickly as that of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whether it was the unprecedented purchase price of $2.15 billion, the flurry of trades that including taking on over $163 million in contract dollars as part of the blockbuster trade with the Red Sox that included Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, or the media rights deal that the club is on the cusp of completing that is reported to be between $6-$7 billion, the Dodgers have become a juggernaut. The public face of the Dodgers now rests with Stan Kasten as their president and co-owner. On Monday we caught up with him at the Winter Meetings and asked him about his new position in LA; how the ownership group was assembled; what Magic Johnson brings to the table, and; how that massive TV deal factors into what the Dodgers do, not only now, but years to come.

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Maury looks at 2012's attendance winners and losers as well as some early postseason ratings.

With the 2012 regular season in the books, it’s time to look at how clubs did at selling tickets. Yes, they call it “attendance,” but it’s really “paid attendance,” a showing of tickets sold and rarely reflective of actual butts in the seats. The league’s 30 clubs drew 74,859,268 over 2,423 games this year: an increase of 2 percent. While this wasn’t as good as I projected before the season started, it was the league’s largest year-to-year growth since the 2007 season total rose 4.6 percent over 2006. Nine clubs drew more than three million in paid attendance this season, while 13 clubs eclipsed the 2.5 million mark. In addition, this is the second consecutive season that total attendance increased over the previous year and marks the highest attendance since 2008. When things are all said and done, 2012 will rank as the fifth-best single-season in MLB history in terms of attendance.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that attendance between 2010 and 2011, while technically up, was basically the same. The league sold 397,715 more tickets last year than 2010, or an increase of less than one percent. Let’s call that what it is: flat. In fact, over the last four years, the league has seen attendance pretty much remain flat. When you factor in new ballparks for the Mets, Yankees, Twins, and Marlins over the period, this tells us that either the sour economy still holds its grip on America’s discretionary income or MLB’s true “golden era”, as Selig likes to call it, was really 2004-2008 when attendance soared. Still, the league has to be happy; last year, the Dodgers’ attendance cratered during Frank McCourt’s tenure, and there were a considerable number of rainouts. This season, rainouts weren’t as high, and with the two additional Wild Card teams added in, the races for a postseason berth were more compelling.

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A look at the Padres' impending sale and how television rights deals are changing the way clubs are valued.

It would be disingenuous to say owners in MLB are doing “nothing” and getting rich. But, by default, they are. Whether it’s indirectly or through media rights deals, from the top to the bottom, each ownership is going to eventually land on a pile of greenbacks.

Case in point: the San Diego Padres. Current owner John Moores has been trying to unload the club for years now, a nasty side-effect of community property laws in California and a divorce from his wife. When the deal with Jeff Moorad fell through, it actually worked to Moores’ advantage.

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A look at why the Mariners could be in a prime position to be sold

Before Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, and fans from the Pacific Northwest begin calling, the Seattle Mariners are not for sale. I’m not saying they are. I haven’t even heard a mere rumor to indicate as much. So if the Mariners do issue some kind of statement saying they are “unequivocally, absolutely not on the market” and that “Maury Brown is engaging in the worst kind of journalism,” everyone can point to the 90 words in the first paragraph of this article where I made sure to say they aren’t.

If you were to profile a club that was a prime candidate to be sold, however, the Mariners would be right there at the top of the list, very much looking the part of a club for sale. They are perfectly positioned. They have owners that seem to be in need of selling. And they’re sitting within a near-perfect atmosphere to be unloaded in the wake of the Dodgers sale. The Mariners may not be on the market at this time, but you’d be hard pressed to find a team more suited for it.

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A critical view of Forbes' team valuations

Full disclosure before I get started: on top of doing my thing here at Baseball Prospectus, I’m a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney. For a guy like me, writing about stuff like this (the business of sports) is, well… it’s a privilege to write for Forbes, one of, if not the, most established business outlets around.

For years, I have been tracking the annual valuations of Major League Baseball clubs that Mike Ozanian started with Financial World, which Kurt Badenhausen now co-authors at Forbes. They’re great as a “trending” measurement, but they have fallen short in terms of real accuracy.

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July 21, 2010 8:00 am

California League Tour, Part 1

9

Charles Dahan

Taking a trip through the California League, looking at the stadiums, surrounding areas, teams, and hot dog ratings.

California has been home to professional baseball for over 150 years. The move of the Giants and Dodgers from New York actually dramatically diminished the vibrant baseball scene in the state, as it lessened the importance of the Pacific Coast League and the farm system that fed PCL teams. In 1941, the California League was established. The league is in the High-A classification and has 10 teams-the Modesto Nuts, Stockton Ports, and San Jose Giants in Northern California, the Visalia Rawhide and Bakersfield Blaze in the Central Valley, and the Lancaster Jethawks, High Desert (Adelanto) Mavericks, Inland Empire (San Bernardino) 66ers, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and Lake Elsinore Storm in the Los Angeles area. 

The league's stadiums range from post-World War II projects such as San Jose Municipal Stadium to state-of-the-art facilities with major-league worthy sky boxes, roving waiters, and enclosed restaurants and bars. Moreover, although statistics are normalized to counteract the effects of different stadiums, the features of different minor-league parks are largely unknown and not quantified. In this edition, three parks--Stockton, Lake Elsinore, and High Desert-are profiled, along with the towns and front office executives that make these clubs unique. Five parks and franchises-San Jose, Inland Empire, Modesto, Rancho Cucamonga, and Visalia-will be featured next week.

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To read Tim Kniker's Unfiltered post following up on one of the audience's suggested topics, surf here.

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A few notable general managers get extensions, and Allard Baird gets a corner office in Boston. The first Transaction Analysis of the offseason covers all the bases.

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Postseason tickets are increasingly hard to come by for the average fan. Maury investigates what clubs are doing to snub fans that can't afford to pay exorbitant ticket prices.

With MLB placing more emphasis on season ticket sales, fans with considerable disposable income, corporations, or sponsors are swooping up tickets that in the past might have been available to the general public at the ticket window. More and more, clubs are configuring new ticket package offerings that are tailored to get fans into long-term commitments. As an example, with a 50% deposit down on a 2007 Detroit Tigers full-season ticket package, you can get the chance to purchase 2006 League Championship and World Series home games. The increased methods of incentivizing individuals into investing in long-term commitments has increased dramatically in the past few seasons. Since those that make those investments many times have the right of first refusal for postseason tickets, clubs are only offering up a small fraction of the total seats available to the general public.

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It took me two weeks to wipe the surprised look off my face after I found out the Cubs got off. The Honorable Sophia Hall found on behalf of Wrigley Field Premium and the Chicago Cubs and dismissed the suit in what, I have to say, is one of the strangest decisions I've ever followed. There's a law on the books in Illinois that says if you hold an event, you can't scalp your own tickets. The Cubs and their parent company, the Tribune Co., seeking to get around this law, set up a shell company, Wrigley Field Premium, with their own people, their own accountants running the books. They allowed the shell company to buy $1 million in tickets, then sell them at insane prices. Now, I don't practice law, but that's illegal. It's also Chicago, though. What's weird is that the judge agrees with everything everyone's said about the suit up until the point where she has to declare them guilty. Reading the opinion, it's all there: "WFP is a subsidiary of the Tribune Company (p. 9)." In March 2002, this brand new ticket broker was allowed to purchase $1,047,766 of tickets (incidentally, go ahead and try that as an actual unaffiliated business and see what the Cubs tell you). The opinion contains a nice little history of how Tribune formed it, the corporate officers overlapped, how WGN provided Premium free advertising...it's crazy. And it contains this gem (on p. 13): "From the beginning Ball Club and Premium did not keep secret they were both owned by Tribune Co. [...] To dispel possible confusion, Premium's employees were instructed to tell customers that Premium is not a part of Ball Club." Gee, that's not concealing ownership, or anything.

It took me two weeks to wipe the surprised look off my face after I found out the Cubs got off. The Honorable Sophia Hall found on behalf of Wrigley Field Premium and the Chicago Cubs and dismissed the suit in what, I have to say, is one of the strangest decisions I've ever followed.

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July 10, 2002 12:00 am

DuPuy Disinforms

0

Doug Pappas

The Baseball America website features transcripts of lengthy interviews with the protagonists in the current labor dispute: Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, and MLBPA head Don Fehr. Editor Alan Schwarz sat down with each man for an hour, asking tough questions and following up as appropriate. Each transcript runs over 6,500 words. Unfortunately, not all of those words are accurate. While both men used the interview as a forum for presenting their positions to the public, one went further. DuPuy made several unambiguously false statements about the economics of Major League Baseball.

Unfortunately, not all of those words are accurate. While both men used the interview as a forum for presenting their positions to the public, one went further. DuPuy made several unambiguously false statements about the economics of Major League Baseball.

DuPuy: "[R]emember, 65 cents of every dollar that's generated right now goes to player salaries."

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March 13, 2002 12:00 am

The Numbers (Part Seven)

0

Doug Pappas

As noted in my last column, operating losses account for only $232 million of the $519 million Major League Baseball claims to have lost in 2001. Another $112,491,000 represents net interest expenses. Here's how the interest was distributed:

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