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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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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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One of the most complex and bedeviling problems in baseball today is understanding to what extent large-market teams have an competitive advantage over small-market teams.

One of the most complex and bedeviling problems in baseball today is understanding to what extent large-market teams have an competitive advantage over small-market teams. Many people have proffered solutions despite not analyzing the problem thoroughly, with most of the plans featuring some sharing of revenues between large- and small-market teams. These plans have generally suffered from one or more problems:

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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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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:

Team Interest Chicago Cubs $4,665,000 Chicago White Sox $2,263,000 New York Mets $2,152,000 Kansas City Royals $1,611,000 Atlanta Braves $1,139,000 Toronto Blue Jays $593,000 Boston Red Sox $51,000 Philadelphia Phillies ($239,000) Seattle Mariners ($682,000) St. Louis Cardinals ($962,000) Florida Marlins ($1,640,000) Colorado Rockies ($2,078,000) Cincinnati Reds ($2,633,000) San Diego Padres ($2,815,000) Montreal Expos ($2,835,000) Cleveland Indians ($2,869,000) Houston Astros ($3,056,000) Oakland Athletics ($3,939,000) Minnesota Twins ($4,327,000) Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,677,000) Anaheim Angels ($4,978,000) New York Yankees ($6,089,000) Texas Rangers ($6,815,000) Milwaukee Brewers ($7,128,000) Tampa Bay Devil Rays ($7,421,000) Arizona Diamondbacks ($7,774,000) Baltimore Orioles ($8,385,000) San Francisco Giants ($12,831,000) Los Angeles Dodgers ($14,437,000) Detroit Tigers ($16,354,000) TOTAL: ($112,491,000)

The positive figures are no surprise. Every club--well, every one but the Expos--starts the season with an eight-figure bank balance, thanks to advance sales of luxury boxes, season tickets, and single-game seats. By the time the players start to collect their salaries, this money has been earning interest for months.

Thus, to estimate the interest actually paid by the other clubs, their reported interest expenses must be adjusted to reflect the offsetting interest income. This presupposes, of course, that interest earned on season tickets and luxury boxes is actually reported on the team's balance sheet... which doesn't appear to be the case for the Boston Red Sox. It's hard to imagine how the Red Sox, a club with no long-term debt, could have netted just $51,000 interest on local revenues of more than $150 million.

Since the two Chicago teams reported the most interest income, I'll use the average of their effective interest rates to estimate the total interest received by all 30 clubs. The Cubs earned 3.59% interest ($4,665,000 on total operating revenues of $129,774,000); the White Sox 2.03% ($2,263,000 on $111,682,000), for an average of 2.81%. Multiplying this rate by MLB's gross revenues of $3,547,876,000 yields an estimate of almost exactly $100 million in interest revenue--$99,695,000, to be precise. Since MLB reported net interest expense of $112,491,000, the 30 clubs paid more than $210 million in interest during 2001.






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