Monday, April 6, 2009

Baseball enters 2009 with an eye on the economy

Phillies one of the few clubs to see a rise in season tickets

When the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies opened their title defence against the Atlanta Braves Sunday night, it marked the opening of a season fraught with uncertainty for the sport.

While the New York Yankees have been acting as though there is no economic downturn by spending $423.5 million US on free-agent signings while also opening a new $1-billion ballpark, the rest of baseball is simply hoping to get through the 2009 season relatively unscathed.

Teams have started to realize their financial situations need to be consistently monitored as the season progresses.

"The decisions that I would have made — or that we as an organization would have made — in October were different from the ones we would have made in November, and those were clearly different from the ones we would have made in January," Paul Beeston, the interim president of the Toronto Blue Jays, told the National Post on the weekend.

"It [the economy] just kept getting worse and worse. And not only didn't we hit the bottom, we didn't see the bottom," he said.

With the San Diego Padres leading the way by slashing about $40 million US from last year's payroll, 13 teams are coming into this year spending less, including Toronto.

Team Marketing Report — a leading on-line marketing service — released its annual survey of baseball on Thursday and listed the average price of a Yankees home ticket at a major league-high $72.97 US, a 76.3 per cent increase from last year's $41.40.

The major-league average is listed as $26.64, with Arizona possessing the league-low of $14.31.

Yankee Stadium not sold out

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