New York Mets ownership has come under increased scrutiny over the past few years. Lowering payroll in a gigantic media market and getting entwined in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme will bring that kind of attention. Back at the trading deadline, there were many, including myself, wondering why the Mets were acting like a small-market team in New York. The team quieted many doubters by bringing Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline and making the World Series, but due to insurance for David Wright‘s injury and the PED suspension for Jenrry Mejia, the payroll increase was not significant. As a result, calls for the Mets to spend were heard again during the offseason, and again, the Mets have silenced their critics with Yoenis Cespedes.
The Mets’ revenues are driven by many factors, including the massive New York market that affords them a fantastic television deal that nets them around $100 million per year. However, nothing drives revenue like success, and the Mets, despite significant ownership debts and upcoming payments totaling over $60 million related to the Madoff scandal, the Mets were able to raise payroll due to their on-field success in 2015 and the fan response to that success. Team sources have pegged the revenue due to the Mets World Series run at around $45 million, per the New York Post. Fortunately for Mets fans, it appears almost all of that amount is being invested back on the field.
Let’s break it down.
Regular Season Revenue from 2015
Additional revenue from the regular season was not included in the $45 million estimate, but it is helpful to note that, due to the increased number of fans, the Mets did substantially better at the gate in their competitive 2015 season than they did the prior year. In 2014, the Mets drew 2.15 million fans and had an Opening Day payroll below $85 million — both figures down more than 30% from when Citi Field opened in 2009, but within a few-hundred thousand fans of the previous three seasons as the payrolls dropped beginning in 2011.
In 2015, the Mets drew 2.57 million fans in the regular season, an increase of nearly 20% as 420,000 more fans showed up to watch the Mets play. Given a >75-25 split >between regular tickets and premium tickets at Citi Field, the ticket revenue alone increased nearly $17 million from 2014 to last year. The New York Post reported the Mets were not going to turn a profit before the playoffs, but exactly what costs were included relative to revenues is not clear.
While the Mets played in 14 postseason games, serving as the home team in seven of those games, the team does not get to keep all gate receipts. As >Wendy Thurm explained a little over a year ago, 15% goes to the Commissioner’s office, and 60% of the gate for all mandatory games — i.e. the first three games of a five-game series and the first four games of a seven-game series — goes to the players’ pool. The teams playing against each other split the remaining revenue.
As a result, the Mets receives 12.5% of the gate for the first three games against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series and 42.5% for the final two games of the series. They receives 12.5% of the gate for the four games against the Cubs as well as the first four games of the World Series, and then 42.5% for Game 5 of the World Series. This year’s player pool was nearly $70 million dollars. With that knowledge, estimating the ticket prices with a 50% increase for the NLCS and then a 100% increase for the World Series, we can estimate the average Division Series games at $3 million, the Championship Series games at $4.6 million and the World Series games at $9.2 million for revenue. Using the percentages above, we come up with around $15 million. That the Mets played against the Dodgers, Cubs, and then in the World Series, it is reasonable to surmise that the Mets were involved in more expensive games than average. Add in concessions, and we are right around the $20 million mark that was reported in the New York Post.
Regular Season Revenue from 2016
The Mets’ gains do not end with last year, as the goodwill carries over to this season. This is not a situation unique to the Mets. Attendance surges when a team gets competitive, but the surge lasts longer than the single year. Over the last 15 years, 32 teams have made the playoffs after a drought of at least three years. Attendance increases, on average, 12.7% during the season (11% combined) in which the team makes the playoffs. The next season, those same teams historically add another 8.8% on top of the gains from the previous season (7.9% combined).
The chart below shows all the teams meeting the above criteria.
|Season||Year before Attendance (In M)||Year of Attendance (In M)||% Increase||Year After Attendance (In M)||% Increase|
|AVERAGE||2.27 M||2.52 M||12.7%||2.72 M||8.8%|
The top six teams on that list all made the World Series like the Mets did last year, and the seventh team should be familiar to Mets fans, as they have been through this before. Back in 2006, when the team was still at Shea Stadium, the team made the NLCS and increased their attendance by nearly 20%, just like they did this season. The next year, the team’s draw increased by another 14%, to over 3.8 million fans. While the new stadium is going to limit attendance to closer to 3.5 million people, the Mets are expecting similar gains next season.
By the middle of last November, the Mets had already sold more than 8,000 new ticket packages between quarter-, half-, and full-season plans. While ticket prices for season-ticket holders are set to rise by just 3% this next year, single-game tickets are subject to dynamic pricing, creating a greater overall increase, particularly for games that are in demand. There are no more single-game tickets available for the Mets’ home opener, and tickets for the rest of the weekend for the higher-priced tickets are also unavailable.
In all, the Mets are figuring on a 500,000 increase in attendance. Using the same factors from above, and adding an extra 4% for ticket price increases, it would appear as though the Mets could reasonably expected to earn another $21 million in ticket sales. Adding in increased money for sponsorships and money for concessions — even after adjusting for revenue sharing — it’s easy to see how the Mets can be expected to gain $25 million next season. The Mets front office, Sandy Alderson and his staff especially, have done a very good job rebuilding and making the Mets competitive, and at least for the time-being the Mets owners do deserve some credit for putting their increased revenues back on the field.
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