04.03.12

Cincinnati’s $225 Million Gambit

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV, The Marketplace at 3:33 pm by

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Of Joey Votto’s 10 year extension with Cincinnati that’s said to be in the $225 million range, ESPN’s Buster Olney raises the spectre of onerous deals handed out to Todd Helton, Alex Rodriguez and Joe Mauer, adding that devoting as much as a quarter of the a club’s salary to one player is a dangerous move. “A notable decline in Votto’s performance,” writes Olney, “or a debilitating injury, could cripple the Reds’ ability to compete.”

While The Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty echoes Olney’s concerns, reminding Cincy fans what happened when the club invested too heavily in Ken Griffey Jr., SB Nation’s Rob Neyer provides a hint behind the Reds’ long-term business model, given that they “play in the 27th-most populous metropolitan area in the United States, and the fourth-least populous in Major League Baseball.”

There are other ways to measure markets. Fan support, for example. Last year the Brewers drew 3.1 million fans to their 81 home games, fourth-best in the National League. Meanwhile, the Reds — despite coming off a first-place season — drew only 2.2 million, 10th in the league. With the Packers and the Brewers, the sports fans in Wisconsin have demonstrated with the wallets and their fannies that they will support their teams, population be damned.

The fans in southwestern Ohio and north-central Kentucky have not done the same. Which doesn’t mean they won’t. Maybe locking up Joey Votto for The Rest of Recorded Time will kickstart the local baseball team’s attendance.

But to me, this just looks like more evidence that Major League Baseball’s franchises, even those in the smallest of markets, are about to reap huge windfalls in local television revenues.

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