BOB:  The next big television deal?

Who is in line for the next big television deal?

I’m back from my annual tax season hiatus and this year’s “break” was longer than usual so for this first column back, I’m just going to touch on a few big picture items that have happened over the past month or so. Next week we will get back to some of the details.

First, we’ll look at television deals. With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ record breaking contract earlier in the year, the team was able to pass up the New York Yankees in overall salary and put itself back into serious contention in the NL West. The big question now: Which team is next in line to sign a huge television deal that will create a cash cow for that (most likely) big market team?

Jeff Passan at Yahoo addresses just that and he feels the Philadelphia Phillies are poised to sign a huge deal when their current television contract with Comcast expires at the end of 2015. The Phillies are very popular and they’ve ranked among the tops in local television broadcasts the past few years. In addition, Comcast is a Philadelphia- based company, so there’s some thought that Comcast will try a little harder to keep the Phillies in the fold.

Passan then gives us a rundown of the state of some of the other teams that will or might soon have big television deals. He finishes up with a second look at how things might go wrong for the Phillies but still contends that they’ll be able to turn their television money into higher payrolls for years to come.

Cubs and Chicago agree on stadium renovations

Historic Wrigley Field looks like it might be getting a face lift. The Chicago Cubs and the city of Chicago have come to an agreement on a $500 million renovation that would include an electronic scoreboard and outfield video board. The Cubs have agreed to play more night baseball. Right now the two sides are calling it a framework agreement.

Of course both sides face an uphill battle here. Owners of local buildings that provide rooftop views of the ballgames have threatened to sue if any of the renovations obstruct their view (which it looks like will happen). With taxpayer funding apparently out of the equation (although I’ll believe it when I see it), ownership plans to open a nearby hotel, plaza and office building as a new revenue stream to make up the stadium costs.

Another potential issue is that the city’s Historic Preservation Division might throw a wrench into things. A large part of what’s going to be renovated is going to be subject to the division’s approval. Of course then you’d have infighting between a city agency and the city bureaucracy.

Attendance through the first month

When I last wrote, we were still in spring training. Now we’re a month into the season and its interesting looking at some of the attendance trends. The first thing that sticks out is that the New York Yankees are sixth in home attendance and last year’s attendance leader, the Philadelphia Phillies, are seventh. Leading the pack by a wide margin are the Los Angeles Dodgers with 46,133 tickets sold per game. Next is the Dodgers’ longtime rival, the San Francisco Giants, with 41,761 tickets per game. The only other team to average more than 40,000 tickets sold is the St. Louis Cardinals with 41,297. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Texas Rangers round out the top five.

The Cleveland Indians are last with 15,194, but they have a small sample size and the weather in the midwest hasn’t been good, so that number might go up once the warmer months hit. Second from last is a familiar face: the Miami Marlins. They moved up on the list last year but this year, after the team was dismantled, they’ve seen a big drop. Also of note is that the Boston Red Sox’s consecutive sellout streak ended on April 10. They had sold out 820 consecutive games going back to 2003.

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In regards to the cubs; as a cubs fan, they really should tear wrigley down and build a new stadium.  The recent trend in stadiums would make a wrigley twice as good(at least).  The restaurant addition and the advertising(and the rumored video scoreboard) and the other minor fixes are just staving off the inevitable.  The land down there costs a mint but eminent domain can be applied to build the new stadium.  With the old stadium leveled(or maybe part of it is kept and used for a museum) they could build that office park they’re planning on anyway.