Who Gets What From Postseason Ticket Revenue

Major League Baseball had several reasons for adding a second Wild Card this season. The reasons we heard most frequently were that the new format would keep more fans interested and excited down the stretch and that it would give an advantage to teams winning their division. The one we heard less frequently — but which was no less important — was that two more postseason games meant more money.

More money for whom?

MLB has very specific requirements for how postseason ticket revenue is divided among the league, the postseason teams, and the players. The framework is set out in the Major League Baseball Rules, an internal document that is not typically shared with the public. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and the Players Association adds an additional layer. If the Rules and the CBA disagree on any of these points, the language in the CBA controls. Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball website obtained a copy of the MLB Rules in 2010 and published it on his site. Here’s the link. The Players Association website has a link to the CBA here.

First things first. What type of postseason revenue must teams share with each other, the league and the players? Ticket revenue. Under MLB Rule 26, “paid attendance receipts” is defined as the “total sum of gross receipts from tickets sold” to each postseason game, minus any admission tax, sales tax or use tax. Game-day concessions, merchandise and other non-ticket revenue are not included.

MLB Rule 45 gives the Commissioner’s Office 15% of the paid attendance receipts for all postseason games. The remaining 85% is divided as follows:

  • Fifty percent of the paid attendance receipts from the Wild Card games is contributed to the Players Pool. (This provision was added in the new CBA.)
  • Sixty percent of the paid attendance receipts from the first three games of the Division Series is contributed to the Players Pool.
  • Sixty percent of the paid attendance receipts from the first four games of the 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.
The Players Pool money is divided among players on the postseason teams. The more successful the team, the more money to that team’s players. Here’s how the funds are distributed, per the CBA:
  • World Series Winner: 36%
  • World Series Loser: 24%
  • Two Championship Series Losers: 24%
  • Four Division Series Losers: 13%
  • Wild Card Losers: 3%

The CBA guarantees certain minimums for the Players Pool for each round of the playoffs. For example, players on the World Series winning team are guaranteed to share at least $4,608,000 this year. If the percentage contribution doesn’t equal at least that amount, the Pool is adjusted upward. Same for players on the teams that lost the World Series, the Championship Series, the Division Series and the Wild Card game. Were that to happen, there’d be less money for the teams themselves. These guaranteed minimums are adjusted year-to-year to reflect the increase in ticket prices.

The most interesting aspect of the ticket revenue distribution plan is the requirement that the two teams in each series share their portion of the ticket revenue equally, because ticket prices for Division and Championship Series games differ significantly depending on the home team.

Below is a chart showing the range of ticket prices for each of the remaining eight teams in the postseason. Price information was gathered from each team’s website, where available. I estimated the Cardinals ticket prices for the Division Series, as that information was no longer available after both games in St. Louis had been played. I also estimated the Orioles ticket prices for the Championship Series, as those tickets will not go on sale until Wednesday.

Team Division Series Championship Series
Athletics $35 – $98 $35 – $100
Tigers $35 – $135 $75 – $170
Yankees $25 – $390 $45 – $515
Orioles $20 – $100 $35 – $150 (estimate)
Nationals $35 – $450 $70 – $450
Cardinals $50 – $175 (estimate) $64 – $200
Reds $35 – $150 $45 – $320
Giants $65 – $275 $113 – $513

The Orioles get a postseason revenue boost by playing the Yankees in the Division Series. So do the Reds, who are matched up against the Giants. The A’s and Tigers won’t clear nearly as much, as they both have relatively low ticket prices.

At this point, we don’t know how long each series will last or how many tickets will be sold at each price. We do know that whatever ticket revenue is generated for each game, the Commissioner will take his 15% cut, the Players Pool will get the next big chunk for the minimum number of games in each series, and the teams in each series will share the remaining revenue equally.



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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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Bob
Guest
Bob
3 years 7 months ago

Sounds like maybe a $12-15M windfall for the giant lizard and his minions, depending on which teams advance, and how long the series go. Not too shabby.

And the “concessions, merchandise, and all other non-ticket revenue” goes 100% to the host team, Wendy?

Ralph
Guest
Ralph
3 years 7 months ago

I think the vendors (Aramark and the like) probably wind up with a fairly significant cut of that, but I’m not sure how much. I also wonder if the public stadium authoritys get anything back somehow…

Matt K
Guest
Matt K
3 years 7 months ago

from my observations while waiting at the O’s game on Sunday to start… aramark (or whoever it is) and angelos must’ve made a killing… these rain delays only get the fans drunk before the game even starts.

night_manimal
Guest
night_manimal
3 years 7 months ago

First, nice article! Any way to look at last year’s playoff teams and figure out how much a run to the LCS and WS was worth to those teams just in ticket revenue? It would be interesting to show that Team X made this much by making it to the LCS. Then when a team is wavering on whether to spend X amount on a certain player this winter to push them over the edge you could see if that player would be a good financial risk just on those limited financial numbers.

theroundsquare
Guest
theroundsquare
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks Wendy, this is great information.

Mitch
Guest
Mitch
3 years 7 months ago

All the Orioles postseason prices are here:
http://www.mlb.com/bal/ticketing/sth_postseason_seating_chart.jsp

Standing room LCS tickets $40; prime seats $175

Kampfer
Guest
Kampfer
3 years 7 months ago

Ticket in Oakland is cheap… A regular season hockey game here costs more than a post season game there…

shibboleth
Guest
shibboleth
3 years 7 months ago

Fascinating! Thank you for this. Further proof that I have chosen the wrong career path.

Anon
Guest
Anon
3 years 7 months ago

Standing room for the Cardinals division series was ~$25, Terrace (highest level) ~$30, Pavilion (2nd highest) ~$35. The $175 upper estimate sounds about right.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 7 months ago

What about extras on tickets? The nats, for example, sell premium seats which include unlimited beer/wine and lots of food. They are much more expensive than the seats right next to them which are similar except without the perks. They must get reimbursed first for some of that.

Nicholas
Guest
Nicholas
3 years 7 months ago

What does the Commissioner’s Office do with their cut of the money?

Bob
Guest
Bob
3 years 7 months ago

The Commissioner puts it in his Office, in his personal Safe. Well, except what “Bud” uses to buy Dick Clark Anti-aging Goatsblood Soup(TM).

Why would we think it goes anywhere other than the lizard’s pockets?

stan
Guest
stan
3 years 7 months ago

Because he’s the head of a business, not its sole owner? Its not like every dollar Bill Gates gets goes into his pockets either, and unlike Bud, he’s at least an owner. Obviously MLB is making a killing but its not like the money is going into Bud’s pockets. He makes an exhorbitant salary as it is.

maqman
Guest
maqman
3 years 7 months ago

Local government entities, many of whom have made financial commitments to build the stadia, will have contractual rights to some forms of team income such as ticket taxes and parking fees. Additionally they will benefit from things such as airport, car rental, restaurant and sales taxes from out of area visitors. They also get tax income from team personnel who reside locally from sales and real estate taxes among other things. MLB teams are worth the money that local tax payers put out to get and keep them.

schmoe
Guest
schmoe
3 years 7 months ago

your last sentence there is debatable. supposedly there are studies that say having to build stadiums for pro sports teams and luring one to your city is a huge money loser. seems like it would be difficult to estimate overall numbers though.

Bishop
Guest
Bishop
3 years 7 months ago

How does it break down for the individual players? Do the premium players get a bigger slice of the “Player’s Pool” pie?

RudolfSchmidt
Member
RudolfSchmidt
3 years 7 months ago

Maybe now the soda will be free in Oakland

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