Estimating Postseason Revenue For Players And Teams

Last month, I explained the formula Major League Baseball uses to divide postseason ticket revenue among the Commissioner’s Office, postseason teams, and players on postseason teams. Now that the postseason has concluded, we have enough information to estimate the amount of ticket revenue collected and, therefore, the amount the Commissioner, the teams, and the players will receive.

Before I launch into the numbers, I want to emphasize that these are estimates. Rough estimates, in fact. We know the attendance figures for each postseason game, and we know the range of ticket prices each team charged, but we don’t know precisely how many tickets at each price were sold by each team for each postseason game.

To create these estimates, I analyzed each postseason team’s ticket price structure for the regular season, to the extent that information for the 2012 season was still publicly available. (The St. Louis Cardinals made this difficult, as they had already deleted seating/price information for 2012 from their website.) I then took the information we had about each team’s postseason ticket price range for each series (described in my earlier post), and estimated the ticket prices charged by each team for each postseason series. I also used each team’s 2012 ticket price structure to estimate how many seats were available at each price for each series.

This was, by far, the most difficult task. Some teams, like the Yankees, have intricate price structures where each small section of the ballpark has seats at a particular price. Other teams, like the Tigers, have just a few price levels for the 42,000 seats at Comerica Park. To the extent my estimates differ from actual ticket revenue collected, the largest variance will be found in how I divided up each ballpark into different price levels. I may very well have overestimated how many tickets sold at the highest ticket prices charged by each team.

Then I turned to the attendance figures, which I obtained from Baseball-Reference’s box scores for each postseason game. We heard some griping about empty seats at Yankee Stadium during the American League Division Series against the Orioles, and the attendance numbers show that only one of the Yankees’ postseason home games sold out, But the Yankees missed sell-outs by only a few thousand seats. The capacity at Yankee Stadium is just over 50,000. They reached capacity for Game 1 of the AL Division Series, and sold more than 47,000 tickets for their other postseason games. In retrospect, it seems the griping was unwarranted. The other postseason teams were also at or near capacity for each of their home games.

Using the San Francisco Giants as an example, here’s how I estimated how much postseason ticket revenue they brought in for the two Division Series games they hosted.

Division Series Ticket Price Range/Estimated % of Seats at Each Price

10% of seats at $275/ticket

20% of seats at $150/ticket

25% of seats at $100/ticket

15% of seats at $75/ticket

30% of seats at $65/ticket

I then used the average attendance for the two Division Series games to estimate how many tickets sold at each price point. Average attendance over the two games was 43,450.  That led to these calculations:

4,350 tickets at $275/ticket =     $1,196,250

8,700 tickets at $150/ticket =     $1,305,000

10,875 tickets at $100/ticket =   $1,087,500

6,525 tickets at $75/ticket =         $489,375

13,050 tickets at $65/ticket =      $848,250

Total for one game                             $4,926,375 per Division Series Game

Total for two games                           $9,852,750 for the Division Series

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I did the same kind of calculation for every postseason game, 37 in all: two Wild Card games, twenty Division Series games, eleven Championship Series games, and four World Series Games.

As a reminder, here’s how postseason ticket revenue is divided:

  • 15 percent of the paid attendance receipts of every postseason game is contributed to the Commissioner’s Office.
  • 50 percent of the paid attendance receipts from the Wild Card games is contributed to the Players Pool.
  • 60 percent of the paid attendance receipts from the first three games of each Division Series is contributed to the Players Pool.
  • 60 percent of the paid attendance receipts from the first four games of each Championship Series and the World Series is contributed to the Players Pool.
  • All paid attendance receipts not paid to the Commissioner’s Office or contributed to the Players Pool is shared equally between the two teams in each Series or Wild Card game.
Here are my estimates:
Estimated Postseason Ticket Revenue 
Commissioner’s Office 

 

$28,353,800
Players’ Pool  $81,405,020
Texas Rangers  $405,150
Oakland A’s  $2,631,955
Baltimore Orioles  $7,180,567
New York Yankees  $10,056,589
Detroit Tigers  $10,331,914
Atlanta Braves  $593,613
Washington Nationals  $5,514,968
Cincinnati Reds  $4,441,532
St. Louis Cardinals  $17,747,976
San Francisco Giants  $20,499,714

The Players Pool money is divided as follows:

  • World Series Winner: 36%
  • World Series Loser: 24%
  • Two Championship Series Losers: 24%
  • Four Division Series Losers: 13%
  • Wild Card Losers: 3%

Here are my estimates:

EstimatedPlayers Pool For Each Postseason Team
San Francisco Giants $29,305,807
Detroit Tigers $19,537,204
St. Louis Cardinals $9,768,602
New York Yankees $9,768,602
Washington Nationals $2,645,663
Cincinnati Reds $2,645,663
Oakland A’s $2,645,663
Baltimore Orioles $2,645,663
Atlanta Braves $1,221,075
Texas Rangers $1,221,075

Looking at Players Pool figures from 2009-2011, there’s no doubt my estimates are high. Perhaps very high. The record for Players Pool money was set in 2009 at $59.1 million. In 2010, the Pool was $54.9 million and last year it was $57.3 million.

A few points to bear in mind. There were only 30 postseason games in 2009, and yet that year set the record for Players Pool money because the teams in the postseason included several with the highest ticket prices in the league: Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers. This season there were 37 postseason games, including five home games for the Yankees, eight home games for the Giants, and three home games for the Nationals, three of the teams with the highest ticket prices in the league, particularly on the very upper end.

So while my estimate of $81,405,020 for the Players Pool is likely very high, don’t be surprised to see a new record for Players Pool money set this season.



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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


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Beau
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Beau
3 years 6 months ago

Are luxury boxes included in that ticket price distribution? I wouldn’t be surprised if they were higher than $250/ticket.

Peter R
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Peter R
3 years 6 months ago

Is the player pool split evenly among the 25 man postseason roster? The 40 man roster? Or is that determined by each team individually (like give more to Raul Ibanez and none to Valverde?)

Steve
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Steve
3 years 6 months ago

My understanding is that the players on the active 25 man roster vote on who gets a “full” or “partial” postseason share. Then the team adds up all the shares that were allocated and divides the player money by the number of shares. So, for example, if a team decided to award 7 additional full shares to players that didn’t make the postseason roster, plus maybe 4 other half shares, that would be 25 + 7 + 2 = 34 shares. So the pool of money would be divided by 34 to determine what a share is equal to.

James
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James
3 years 6 months ago

No soup for Melky! Not a chance the Giants voted him in.

walt kovacs
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walt kovacs
3 years 6 months ago

what about the tv revenue?

dont the players at every level get a piece of that?

Didrums44
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Didrums44
3 years 6 months ago

Wow. Very interesting. I had no idea the players got such a large percentage of the gate. What is the breakdown for the regular season?

joser
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joser
3 years 6 months ago

That’s a historical artifact — once upon a time, when there were no broadcast revenues and the gate was all there was (aside from minor revenue for ads on outfield walls, concessions, etc), the player’s share of the postseason revenue was created as an incentive for them to try to win games (and not incidentally, also not sabotage them to benefit gambling interests). And it was a big incentive, because the postseason share could be as much or more than their regular salary (in an era when a lot of players had to take other jobs in the offseason to make ends meet).

James
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James
3 years 6 months ago

This is a nice article, and I appreciate the work that must have gone in this, but I have one small critique. Saying your total estimate is $81,405,020 suggests precision in your estimate, whereas you acknowledge that this is highly uncertain. It would be more appropriate to just call it $80 million.

Nivra
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Nivra
3 years 6 months ago

What about merchandise and concession estimates?

While concessions probably don’t differ that much from regular playoff games (a small per game boost at most, due to celebration and the greater willingness to spend money), merchandise sales are likely a significant boost from what teams expect in the regular season.

I know normal merchandise is split among all 30 teams. However, I always figured this was the wholesale price with the retailer taking the normal retail margin for themselves. In the case of stadium stores, the retailer is the home team. Additionally, I wonder if the 30 team merchandise split applies to playoff paraphernalia since that’s specific to the the playoffs.

tbd
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tbd
3 years 6 months ago

Yes, what about concessions, etc? I’d like to know just how much money the SF Giants ownership group cleared from this postseason.

TKDC
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TKDC
3 years 6 months ago

I think looking at the trend of the last 10-15 years would be a much better guess. You just have way to many factors for this to not be like a monkey throwing darts.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 6 months ago

Based on the information in this post – why is the Tigers players pool larger than the losing championship series teams?

Dan
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Dan
3 years 6 months ago

Disregard – I forgot about ‘divison’

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