BOB: Cubs Sale news and a spring training groundbreaking

Minor League Baseball tops 42 million in attendance for first time

I touched on this last week, but the final numbers are in and Minor League Baseball recorded 42,812,812 fans in attendance at its games in 2007. This blows away last year’s record by more than 1.1 million fans. Thirteen of the 15 leagues showed an increase in attendance while the Pacific Coast League, Midwest League, South Atlantic League and Pioneer Leagues all set records this year. The two Triple-A leagues on their own have set records in seven of the past eight years.

The two outliers that didn’t show an increase from the previous year were the Texas League and the Appalachian League. The Texas league was coming off of record attendance in 2006 while the Appalachian League lost a team in 2007.

Indians’ spring training home groundbreaking

Goodyear, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, and the Cleveland Indians celebrated the groundbreaking of the future spring training home of the Indians. The Indians plan to begin playing their spring training games in Goodyear beginning in 2009, and the hope is that with the Indians in town, it’ll spur further growth. Developers are already planning an entertainment district that includes hotels, stores and restaurants near the new ballpark.

Puerto Rico wants 10-year moratorium on first-year players’ draft

Dr. David Bernier, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Sport, outlined a proposal last week that would remove Puerto Rican baseball players from the First-Year Players Draft for the next 10 years. Puerto Rico has been part of the draft since 1990, and while baseball schools have sprung up around all of Latin America, Puerto Rico has been somewhat ignored because teams can invest in a country just as close without having to go through the draft process.

Bernier also said that interest in baseball has declined because of the lack of investment by the teams; that was an indirect reason that the Puerto Rican winter league suspended its season this year. For now, MLB is assessing the proposals.

Dodgers will celebrate anniversary of move to Los Angeles in 2008

2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, and the Dodgers have big plans to promote the anniversary. Each month, the team will highlight a decade in the franchise’s history since the move to the west coast; the team will have a float in the 2008 Rose Bowl Parade. The 1988 team, which is the last Dodgers team to win a World Series, will get a special tribute in July of 2008.

Mike Ilitch wants to see more seats in Comerica Park

The Detroit Tigers set an attendance record this season that had stood since the last time the team won the World Series in 1984. Now, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch wants to find ways to put even more seats in the ballpark and one of his proposals has to do with shortening the dugouts. While I’m not sure the players would be too pleased, this would give the Tigers even more premium seats to sell.

In other Detroit ballpark news, the city has begun to auction off pieces of Tiger Stadium, which is set to be torn down at some point in time. The auction proceeds are supposed to be used to pay for the demolition costs. The auction runs through October 13 and includes everything from seats to urinals.

Cubs could be sold in pieces

The Tribune Company, which currently owns the Chicago Cubs, is looking to sell the team after real estate investor Sam Zell purchased the struggling newspaper. And it’s not just the club that’s for sale, it’s Wrigley Field and the Tribune’s 25% stake in Comcast Sportsnet. As it stands, all of the assets associated with and including the Cubs could sell for over $1 billion. The Tribune Company is now thinking that more money could be made by selling the assets separately rather than en masse.

MLB isn’t too crazy about it because they can only control the sale of the team so there’s a loss of control there. In addition, there’s a conflict between the Tribune, which has a responsibility to get the best price possible for its shareholders, and the league, which steers towards more league friendly owners. Regardless, the sale of the team is looking like it could be a fun ride.

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