BOB:  MLB extends television deal with ESPN

ESPN, MLB agree on television deal

ESPN and Major League Baseball agreed to an eight-year extension of their current television deal last week.

The extension starts in 2014 and it’ll increase the amount the sports network pays from $360 million a year to around $700 million a year. It combines television, radio, digital and international rights as well. In the past, these were all handled separately. It also lets ESPN keep its Monday and Wednesday night games but more interestingly, it pretty much eliminates the local blackout that was in place in the past. Now those without ESPN can also watch their teams play when they’re on Monday or Wednesday night baseball.

It also gives ESPN one of the Wild Card games and increases the number of times it can schedule a team from five to six. The deal also lets ESPN have exclusive rights to the Sunday night game. Finally, it gives ESPN the ability to have live look-ins while SportsCenter is running.

Anheuser Busch, MLB agree to sponsorship deal

Major League Baseball and Anheuser-Busch appear to have fully settled their differences. They inked a sponsorship extension that will keep the company as the league’s official beer sponsor.

Back in 2010, the two sides went to court over an extension after Anheuser-Busch also signed on with the NFL. The new extension will run through 2018 and it will allow Anheuser-Busch to sponsor MLB Opening Week, the players of the month and the league’s Fan Cave. It will also be the presenting sponsor of one of the two Wild Card games played each year.

The deal also allows Anheuser-Busch to use the MLB logo and the logos of its teams. The teams are still allowed to strike individual deals with Anheuser-Busch’s competitors, but rules limit to the areas in which they can market their relationship. Most of the terms of the deal go into effect next year, but the Wild Card game sponsorship starts Anheuser-Busch will get this year. Anheuser-Busch now has sponsorship deals with MLB, the NFL, the NBA and UFC.

Yankees parking garage drama continues

The New York Yankees’ publicly subsidized parking garages are in default on their city-issued bonds and there’s been some recent speculation that one or more of the structures will be torn down and a hotel put in its place. Field of Schemes talks about how this is the first time a city official has brought up the subject but it’s not clear-cut. There are two newer garages that probably won’t be torn down and the speculation is that one of the older ones will be razed.

Field of Schemes also says there’s no real plan yet and things are still in the early stages as contractors are responding to a request for qualifications. The author says this is still in the “kicking the tires” stage and at this point, anything could happen.

Attendance update

We’re entering the home stretch of the regular major league season and the Philadelphia Phillies are holding onto a slim lead as the top draw in baseball. They’ve drawn 44,269 fans per game and they just topped the three million mark for the sixth straight year. Just behind the Phillies are the New York Yankees, who also topped the three million mark but they’re less than 500 fans per game down from the Phillies. The Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers round out the top five. If each team keeps its per-game attendance, we’ll have nine teams cross the three million mark this year.

The Yankees are the best road draw with 34,293 fans showing up to their road games on average. The Chicago Cubs are right behind them with 34,173 and the Phillies, New York Mets and Giants round out the top five there.

Despite making another playoff push, the Tampa Bay Rays are at the bottom of the list with 20,056 tickets sold per game. What’s impressive about that is, if that holds, it’ll be the first time ever that no team had an average of less than 20,000. The Oakland Athletics are second from the bottom. It’s probably not ironic that the two teams lobbying for new stadiums show up at the bottom of the list.

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