BOB:  Target Field and the Yankees accused of breaking the law

Twins name new stadium

This week, the Minnesota Twins announced that they’ve entered into an agreement with Target that includes naming rights. It’s a 25-year deal and Twins fans will be watching their home team play at Target Field beginning in 2010. Financial terms weren’t released, but the speculation was that the deal fetched the Twins at least $100 million over the life of the agreement.

The agreement includes collaboration on what will be called Target Plaza. This will include a pedestrian bridge and public gathering place that connects Target Field to downtown Minneapolis. In addition, I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of Target logos scattered throughout the new ballpark and it’s also fitting that across the street is the Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Delta signs on with Mets in sponsorship deal

The New York Mets already have sold the naming rights to their stadium to Citigroup, but the team lined up another big sponsor in Delta Airlines. Considered a “signature partner,” Delta was already the official airline of the Mets and its big presence at the new stadium will be behind the backstop. Delta will get naming rights to the 22,500-square foot club space at the new ballpark, which will consist of the 1,600 seats closest to home plate. In addition, Delta will receive extensive in-park branding throughout the stadium

It’ll be interesting to see what’ll happen with naming rights in the event that Citigroup is one of the financial institutions to go under. With the credit crisis brewing, it’s been one of the banks having problems and it’s a question whether it’ll still be around, at least as an independent company, when the new ballpark opens next spring.

Yankees’ stadium deal faces scrutiny

A recent report has revealed that the New York Yankees and the city of New York may have violated federal tax regulations and state laws when they used $943 million in tax-exempt bonds to build New Yankee Stadium The report was prepared as part of some Congressional testimony into the public financing of sports complexes and the argument is similar to what the Florida Marlins faced in their legal battle. Basically, it comes down to whose interests are served. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky contends that it’s the Yankees who are getting all the benefits while the people of the city and state of New York are receiving little, if nothing, in return. In addition, there’s some speculation that the parties fudged the appraisal numbers to get the deal to work.

The difference between the Yankees’ situation and the Marlins’ is that there currently isn’t a lawsuit, just a claim, so for the time being, there’s really no recourse. It’ll be interesting to see if Brodsky can drum up support and actually try to push something through the legal system. Odds are good, though, that with the Marlins deal as something of a precedent and the Yankees’ ballpark nearing completion, little will be done about it.

Minor league affiliate roundup

There was one move and several extensions as teams continued to make decisions on their minor league affiliates. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they’ll now have the West Virginia Power as a minor league affiliate. While this is an addition to the Pirates’ farm system, it’s not the first time they’ve tapped the Charleston area. The Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate was located in the city from 1971-1976 and their Single-A team was there from 1978 to 1979.

The Mets announced that they’ll continue to use the Savannah Sand Gnats as their Single-A affiliate for two more years. The Washington Nationals agreed to a two-year extension with the Vermont Lake Monsters in an affiliation that dates back to 1994, when the team was still in Montreal. The Casper Ghosts of the Pioneer League will be the Colorado Rockies’ short-season affiliate through 2010.

Attendance update

With five home games remaining, the New York Yankees topped the four million mark in attendance for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. With an average attendance of just over 53,000, the Yankees look to be on track to break last season’s record attendance. It also looks like they’re going to have company, because the New York Mets are also on pace to crack the four million mark. It’ll be just the second time two teams had four million in attendance. The only other time was when the Toronto Blue Jays and Colorado Rockies did it in 1993.

The Boston Red Sox continue to dominate on the road and they’re over 2,600 fans per game better than the second place New York Mets. I found it strange that the Detroit Tigers have the worst road attendance in baseball. It’s close between them, the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals. I know they’re having a disappointing season, but they still have some players to watch and you wonder if it’s more their schedule then anything. Oddly, the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox are at 27th, the Minnesota Twins are 26th and the Cleveland Indians are 25th, so it looks like an AL Central thing.

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