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MLB Owners Meetings: No Decision on TV Blackouts. Budget Freeze and Sponsorships Highlighted PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 November 2008 11:27

MLBOwners for the 30 clubs in MLB met yesterday in New York to discuss a number of topics, including MLB's television territories, the annual budget, the sale of the Cubs (see more on the Cubs sale), and postseason rules, with movement on some topics, but not all.

Discussions occured on MLB's television territories and blackout policy, although no decisions were made. The proposed adjustment will involve clubs losing a territory or market if they do not broadcast within it. Currently, markets such as Las Vegas sees six clubs claiming the television territory, including the A’s, Giants, Padres, Angels, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks.

The issue was tabled in the last quarterly meetings with the owners in August.

In a sign that the decline in the economy is shaping how MLB is conducting business, the owners agreed to adopt a 2009 budget with no increases to unspecified projects. The last budget freeze occurred in 2004.

MLB posted record revenues at $6.5 billion this year, short of initial projections at the beginning of the season. Revenues should increase with the MLB Network coming online January 1st and the World Baseball Classic being played. Still, MLB is taking a cautious approach.

“No one wants to count any dollars before they actually come across the transom,” MLB COO Bob Dupuy said to The Associated Press.

The freeze comes as owners worry about declines in attendance, and MLB as a whole worries about the sponsorship and advertisement market. As reported earlier this week, DHL is exiting from the U.S. domestic express-delivery service, and the future is uncertain as to whether they will continue to be a presenting sponsor for MLB.

“We’ve had very positive conversations. They’re staying in business obviously, they’re just shifting their emphasis internationally,” DuPuy said. “But obviously in this market we’re talking to all of our sponsors to make sure that we give them as much value as possible for their sponsorship dollars and try to keep them all in place.”

DHL has been the sponsor of the monthly and annual “DHL Delivery Man” award since reaching a three-year agreement with MLB in 2005. That deal was extended in March of 2007 through 2010, and includes sponsorship agreements with several clubs, including the Reds, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Mets, Braves, and Indians.

In other news, plans to build a high-rise in Harlem for the MLB Network have been dropped. The $435 million, 21-story building was to be located on Harlem at Park Ave. and 125th St. MLB Network will be staying in the former headquarters for MSNBC in in Secaucus, New Jersey, as opposed to using the studios as a transitional location.

“The Harlem project ran into difficulty getting financing, developer financing,” DuPuy said to The AP. “There’s no activity on the Harlem project. At the moment, we’re very satisfied with the Secaucus facility. It’s a terrific facility and will serve our needs very well.”

In the wake of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, disussions took place formalize in the rules commissioner Bud Selig’s decision that postseason games cannot be shortened due to weather. Game 5 was suspended in a 2-2 tie on Monday, Oct 27th in the sixth inning and was not completed until Weds., Oct. 29th.

In other news

— MLB officials discussed last week’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee. The sport hopes to regain Olympic status for 2016.

— Wendy Lewis had been promoted to senior vice president from vice president of strategic planning, recruitment and diversity and will report to Jonathan Mariner, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of MLB.

Sources: The Associated Press. Major League Baseball


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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