BOB: Arbitration and Yankee Stadium News

Introducing Coolray Field

The Gwinnett County Braves made their debut last season but the county was unable to secure a naming rights deal for the new ballpark. Last fall, the Atlanta Braves stepped in and took over negotiations, and last week they signed a deal with Coolray Heating and Cooling that will bring in $10 million over a 16-year naming rights deal.

Because things dragged out so long, the Braves will actually be the biggest beneficiary of the deal. They’ll receive the first $350,000 every year while the county will get the excess of about $281,000 each year. Had the county sold the rights last fall, it would have gotten the first $350,000. As a whole, the county was able to cover its first year’s loan payment last season but just barely. This naming rights deal means they should be a little bit ahead of the game going forward.

A look inside a minor league team’s booksThe Rochester Red Wings, a Triple-A team, hold the distinction of being one of the few publicly owned teams in professional baseball. This allows shareholders to attend a public meeting to review the company’s book and records, and Will Lingo provides a nice rundown of where the team is in a recent column.

The team lost $24,349 last year and most of the questions at the meeting were in regard to the Red Wings’ investment in the Single-A Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League. Before the 2008 season, the Red Wings took over the team and assumed all its debts. In saving the team though, losses are beginning to mount. The Red Wings hope to sell the team but that’s going to be tough in the current financial climate.

Yankees’ park promise falling short

When the New York Yankees got financing from the government to tear down the old Yankee Stadium and build a new one, one of the conditions was that the team would replace some of the parks that had to be leveled when the new ballpark was built. Of course a big problem is the old stadium hasn’t been torn down yet so Heritage Field, a complex of three replacement ball fields, can’t be built. Several other replacement parks have yet to be finished and most are over budget to boot.

Now that people are beginning to notice, a spokesman for the New York Economic Development Corporation said the old stadium should be down by June. That way the parks can be ready by the end of 2011. That’s a couple of years late but it doesn’t appear that there’s anything that anyone can do about it.

The arbitration game

From the team’s perspective, I can’t think of anything good that comes out of salary arbitration. If a team and a player goes to the arbitration table and the player wins, it means the team most likely pays a little bit more then if they would have settled. If the team wins, they save a little money but there has to be some resentment by the player and that can’t help when it comes to longterm negotiations. In a special piece at Yahoo Sports, Maury Brown breaks down the winners and losers amongst the players who were arbitration eligible this year. For even more, you can check out his other arbitration hearing resources at the Biz of Baseball.

Diamondbacks come up with alternative stadium funding plan for Cubs

Outside of the Chicago Cubs, nobody, including MLB commissioner Bud Selig, wants the state of Arizona to pass a state-wide ticket tax on all Cactus League games to help pay for a new spring training home for the team. The Arizona Diamondbacks were one of the first to come to the table with an alternative and that’s to set up special tax districts in Mesa, Ariz. in order to pay for the new ballpark facility.

Tax increment financing (TIF) involves parceling out the tax revenue from a specific location to justify the public costs of developing the area. The idea is that the revenue derived from the development eventually pays for the development itself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the legislators are on board so it could be back to square one. The Cubs’ staying put depends on a new ballpark so it’ll be interesting to see how things develop.

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Jim Casey
Jim Casey

Speaking of teams being slow to sell naming rights for the ballpark, how are the Nationals progressing in that area? GEICO or Verizon seem like the obvious possiblities.