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Inside the Numbers: MLB 2010 First Interleague Attendance PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 05:58

MLB Attendance SeriesIt has been an ongoing debate: Is interleague play really more popular than regular league play in Major League Baseball? Certainly, Major League Baseball has portrayed it as such, with detractors pointing out everything from the fact that any increases in the first set of interleague game attendance could be tied to nothing more than their games occurring on the weekend to the weather warming as spring begins to more toward summer to strength of popularity of the visiting team.

Be that as it may, The Biz of Baseball crunched the attendance numbers and found that there’s a case to be made on both sides.

In the first weekend of interleague play across Major League Baseball, ballparks had an average attendance of 33,172 compared to an average of 29,404 for weekend games for the same hosting teams over the course of the 2010 season, an increase of 13 percent. When looking at more recent periods, when weather is improving, interleague attendance sees a mixed bag.

In looking at the last weekend of play before interleague began, average attendance was 33,371 compared to interleague’s average of 33,172, a decline of less than 1 percent (-0.63%).

With interleague, the Sunday Night Game of the Week on ESPN between the Yankees and Mets drew 41,422, a new Citi Field record. The highest attended game of interleague featured the Chicago Cubs visiting the Texas Rangers. The Saturday game that saw the Cubs beat the Rangers 5-4 drew 46,180 or 94 percent of capacity.

The most popular series belonged to the Red Sox-Phillies series at Citizen Bank Park where average attendance was 45,240 or 104 percent CBP’s 43,647 seating capacity. The set of weekend series games with the Marlins, Mets and Braves leading up to interleague saw an average of 45,321, or just under 1 percent more than what the Red Sox-Phillies interleague series drew.

The lowest attended series was between the Rockies and Royals where the three games at Kauffman Stadium drew an average of 22,530. In terms of being able to fill (or rather, not fill) the house to capacity, the Blue Jays visit to the Diamondback’s Chase Field yielded an average of 25,142 or 52 percent of Chase Field’s 48,652 capacity.

Natural Rivalry

Sure, MLB likes to somehow portray the Padres and Mariners as a “natural rivalry” but, can you really say that markets thousands of miles apart have any real connection? The Biz of Baseball looked at the interleague match-ups, and sees four series in the first set of interleague games that could truly be considered “natural rivals”

  • Orioles at Nationals
  • Yankees at Mets
  • Giants at Athletics
  • Reds at Indians

Breaking each series down sees the following:

Natural Rivalry

Avg

Capacity

% of
Capacity

Weekend Avg

(League Play)

Inter % (+/-) 

to Lg Play

Orioles at

Nationals

28,401

41,888

68%

19,787

44%

Yankees at

Mets

41,382

42,000

99%

33,144

25%

Giants at

Athletics

34,501

35,067

98%

14,781

133%

Reds at

Indians

23,201

43,545

53%

13,732

69%

Looking at the figures, on the face of them, the A’s looks like the biggest benefactor of interleague by hosting the Giants. After all, the average attendance for weekend games during league play leading up to interleague was an anemic average of 14,781 compared to the 34,501 for interleague, a whopping increase of 133 percent. But, as mentioned at the outset, there are a host of variables often times in play, and for the A’s, it’s been hosting teams at the beginning of the season that aren’t exactly the bellwether for packing the house. Of the 9 prior weekend games at McAfee Coliseum, the Athletics hosted the Orioles, Indians, and Rays. And while the educated fan would say the Rays are baseball’s best team at the moment, the club does not resonate as well as storied brands such as the Yankees or Red Sox. As we said, variables can play a role in whether increases are a matter of interleague games being popular (Phillies-Angels), or  league play games simply not drawing (the case with the A’s).

The series that seemed to register the highest in the “ho hum” department was the “Battle of Ohio” between the Reds and Indians at Progressive Field. Even though the weather was great, the three game series drew a lackluster average of 23,201, or 53 percent of Progressive Field’s 43,545 capacity. More worrisome to the Indians has to be the fact that their interleague series with the Reds drew 69 percent more than the 13,732 that they averaged over weekend play prior to interleague. Ouch.

First Interleague: A Mixed Bag

How did each series fare in terms of % of capacity, and more importantly, whether they drew more or less than league play? For the most part, when looking at the first series of interleague games, which took place on Friday-Sunday, and comparing that to prior weekend series, interleague outpaced regular league play for all but three clubs (Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Phillies). And really, if you wish to be fair, the Phillies attendance is nearly identical (the club is seeing the facility filled to over capacity – standing room only – for weekend games across the board).

But, as mentioned, plus or minus, the question is, are the variables in place to make a definitive answer as to whether interleague is an attendance drawing panacea? The answer seems to be, it depends.

With divisions rotating each season for interleague, it may be the luck of the draw that determines whether a club sees substantial gains or not in terms of paid attendance for interleague. The Diamondbacks came up with the Blue Jays, which didn’t help them, while the Rangers get a bit of a push by having the Cubs come to town.

But, here’s what shows how hard it is to define whether it is the allure of seeing “the other league’s players” or just interest in good teams: While interleague occurred this past weekend, there was one National League-only series that took place between the Braves and Pirates at PNC Park. The three game series drew 24,011, or 28 percent more than the previous weekend series games prior.

Baseball will surely continue to spin that interleague is what fans want, while the skeptics will say, it’s a matter of the draw. At least with the second set of interleague games that will take place beginning on June 11, we should have a better idea with more games played over the course of not only the weekend, but weekdays.... Or, will we?

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE FIRST INTERLEAGUE (AND 1 NL SERIES) DATA FOR 2010

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Indians Attendance Woes Driving Debt Concerns PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Joe Tetreault   
Friday, 21 May 2010 19:00

The Cleveland Indians have revealed they face a nearly insurmountable challenge to break even in 2010, even with revenue sharing from Major League Baseball, according to Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal.  Owners of a MLB worst attendance number of 14,382 (which is actually a slight uptick from the last numbers we reported on May 6th) the Tribe are on pace to draw over 30,000 fewer fans than they estimated needing to break even.

This weekend's three game interleague series with the cross state rival Cincinnati Reds should help pick up some ground. And better weather always helps clubs with more customers at the games. While Cleveland's situation is hardly unique, as attendance is down all over the majors, the severity may be a canary in the coal mine moment.

Many years ago fans would joke about calling the Indians' ticket office to ask when the game started to be asked in response, "What time can you get here?" The old Municipal Stadium, the mistake on the lake, was a cavernous park, that felt empty even when crowds that would fill Progressive Field to capacity were in attendance.

The situation in Cleveland is made worse not just because of the overall economic downturn and the tightening of credit markets. As initially reported by Biz of Baseball founder, Maury Brown, one of the big problems associated with the potential seizure of the Rangers is a further tightening of credit for other major league teams.

The potential of a lawsuit involving Hicks' creditors and Major League Baseball, precipitated by MLB's action to seize the Rangers could scare away potential bondholders who could serve as a potential rescue strategy for Cleveland. This consequence to other other league members resulting from an unrelated sale underlies the concerns Brown outlined today to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. The first consideration as Maury points out is to not have the courts limit the Commissioner's power.

However, the more frightful long term consequence is how this unilateral move may affect debt servicing league-wide. Especially in the current business environment, where bond holders and creditors are being asked to forgo their contractual rights, any action that further restricts the smooth flow of credit to the clubs can hasten their financial decline. In Cleveland's case, the edge may be far closer than is comfortable. How much relief can the league extend to their members remains to be seen. But this is the warning.

The Indians have never been profligate spenders, like the Rangers. They smartly secured young talent on contracts that gave the team cost certainty. They were willing to shop popular veterans like Bartolo Colon and let favorites like Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez depart when their price tags became prohibitive. If a fiscally conservative club can teeter on the brink, who then is safe?


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor 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 can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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With Declining Attendance, Mets Offer Free Tickets to Former Season-Tix Holders PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 18 May 2010 12:15

MetsThe New York Mets sit a game under .500, and are 6 games out of first in the NL East, but their biggest losses of the season are coming at the gate.

As reported by The Biz of Baseball, the Mets have the largest attendance decline in the National League, and rank behind only the Blue Jays and Indians for the largest declines in the league. This after the Mets opened Citi Field last season with a vastly smaller seating capacity than the cavernous setting of Shea Stadium. Over 21 games, the Mets are averaging 31,891, or 75.9 percent of capacity.

The Mets, sensing revenue losses, are offering “free tickets for this weekend's series against the Yankees to a ‘select’ number of former season-ticket holders, Mets executive vice president of baseball operations Dave Howard said,” according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday.

Howard declined to elaborate on the specific number, saying it is a "limited" number for each of the three games - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. 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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MLB Attendance Through April, Early May Down 2% PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 07 May 2010 15:55
Google Doc Thumb
Select the image to see spreadsheet with 2010, 2009,
and reports for all 30 clubs for each game through
May 6 (Google Doc)

UPDATE: An error in reporting a Braves game as being a home game for the Mets has altered the average for Mets, as well as their ranking. The update sees the Mets with an average of 38,154 for 2009. That moved their percentage of decrease to 18.1 percent, and moves them from 28th overall ahead of the Blue Jays and Indians, but last in terms of decline from last season at the time of the report for the National League.


Through Thursday, May 6, Major League Baseball is seeing a decline of just under 2 percent (1.6 percent) over the same period last year, according to research conducted using attendance data from MLB.com and ESPN. Removing rainouts, there have been 425 gates for an average of 28,079 compared to an average of 28,531 over 414 gates last season at this time.

(Select the image provided to see the data this report was rendered from)

Thirteen of the 30 clubs are showing attendance gains, with the Minnesota Twins leading the way. The Twins, hosting their first games in the new Target Field, have seen an average of 38,646 over 13 gates, up 70.1 percent from the 22,726 average over 16 gates in the last year at the Metrodome. As of Thursday, there had been no rain or snowouts in the new open air stadium.

And while there has been the lowest recorded attendance in Camden Yards history this season (9,129 on Monday, 4/12 against the Rays), and a horrible showing in the standings, the Orioles are seeing the second highest increase in paid attendance (18.4 percent) from an average of 20,407 over 16 dates last season, compared to 24,163 over 12 dates through May 6.

In a sign that ownership woes don't matter if the team is performing in the standings, the Texas Rangers see the fourth highest increase in April/early May attendance seeing an average of 26,134 over 15 gates compared to an average of 22,685 over 14 gates last season, an increase of 15.2 percent.

While there have been reports that the Mets are seeing the largest attendance decline in the league, according to BizofBaseball.com research, the Cleveland Indians are seeing the biggest drop in attendance. Cleveland is seeing an average of 14,154 over 14 gates, compared to 20,255 over 11 games in 2009, a decline of 30.1 percent.

The Indians are followed by the Blue Jays (15,208, down 24 percent from 20,014 last season), A’s (16,552, down 17.1 percent from 2009), and Padres (22,052, down 16.6 percent 26,441 last season).

It should be noted that based on the study, the Mets see the 6th largest decline (down 15.1 percent), while the Yankees see the second smallest dip from last season (1 percent) behind only the Red Sox (0.7 percent decline).

NOTE: Most assuredly, the White Sox and MLB attendance decline might actually be different, based on some confusing data. The April 28, 2009 game between the Mariners and White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field has either attendance of 1 (ESPN’s accounting) or zero (MLB.com’s accounting). We include this data as it is what is reported as official attendance through these sources. Should a corrected value surface, we will update accordingly.

To see a complete accounting of MLB attendance over the first month of April and first week of May, select Read More

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MLB Early Season Attendance Down 4% From Same Period in 2009 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 26 April 2010 00:19

MLBWhile it’s exceptionally early in the 2010 MLB season, the league is seeing a 4 percent decline in attendance compared to the same period last season. Currently, MLB sees average attendance of 28,790 compared to 29,865 in 2009 over the same period.

During the same period, both years saw three games with attendance under 10,000. The lowest attended game to date was the April 12 game between the Rays and Orioles at Camden Yards (9,129), this compares to 8,790 on April 20 of last year between the Marlins and Pirates at PNC Park.

There have been three record lows early this season. The Cleveland Indians drew 10,071 in their second game at what is now called Progressive Field, the Toronto Blue Jays drew 10,610 for their third home game against the Chicago White Sox, their smallest home crowd since they moved into the Rogers Centre in June of 1989, and that low water mark game mentioned for the Orioles against Rays was the lowest attended game in the 19-year history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Last year at this time, there had been nine rainouts compared to three rainouts over the same period this year.


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. 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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Inside the Numbers: Attendance Difference from MLB Openers to Second Game PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 15 April 2010 02:35

MLBAs we reported on Weds., MLB saw 1,314,428 in total paid attendance for the 30 openers, down 0.1 percent from 1,313,137 for 2009’s 30 openers (see complete details). In a sign that fans love the beginning of the season, ballparks were filled to an average of 101 percent of capacity.

But, what about when the party is over? The first game after the opener? With the Diamondbacks winning the 9-7 marathon at Dodger Stadium late Weds./early Thursday morning, all 30 of the “second games” are now in, and with that a total of 890,280 in paid attendance was registered, a decline of 32.8 percent from the 30 home openers.

Three clubs posted higher attendance for their second game than their openers. The Red Sox drew 38,000 compared to 37,440 for the opener, a difference of 1.5 percent. The Red Sox were joined by the Phillies (45,438 in second game compared to 44,791 for the opener, a difference of 1.4 percent) and Giants Phillies (42,985 in second game compared to 42,940 for the opener, a difference of 0.1 percent).

As expected, the other 27 clubs saw varying degrees of decline for the game after the home opener, with the Cleveland Indians leading the way with their lowest attended game in the history of what is now called Progressive Field. The Tribe saw 10,071 in their second game after drawing 42,061 for their opener, a decline of 76.1 percent. The Indians were closely followed by the Blue Jays who saw 12,167 in their second game after drawing 46,321 for their opener, a decline of 73.7 percent. The Blue Jays were followed by the A’s (10,090 in their second game compared to 30,686 for the opener, a decline of 67.1 percent), and Mariners (15,978 in their second game compared to 45,876 for the opener, a decline of 65.2 percent).

For details on opener-to-second game attendance for each of the 30 clubs in 2010, select READ MORE

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UPDATE: 2010 MLB Home Openers Draw 1.3 Million Fans, Down Less Than 1% From 2009 PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 01:04

UPDATE: The initial report was missing the Phillies' home opener. With the addition of the attendance figure, 2010 will see a slight decrease in opener attendance for 2010 as opposed to a decline of 3.4% as initially reported. We apologize for the inconvenience.

UPDATE #2 - The associated table now has seating capacity of each ballpark along with how much of capacity each opener filled it.


With the Dodgers and Yankees being the final clubs to host opening games for the 2010 season on Tuesday, the 2010 season saw a total of 1,314,428 in total paid attendance for the 30 openers, down 0.1 percent from 1,313,137 for 2009 when the Yankees and Mets each opened new ballparks. Even though there was a slight decline, ballparks were filled to an average of 101 percent of capacity.

The highest attended opener goes to the Dodgers who drew 56,000 against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. They were followed by the Braves (53,081, Cubs the opponent, Jason Heyward debut), Rangers (50,299, Blue Jays the opponent), Rockies (49,509, Padres the opponent), and Yankees (49,293, Angels the opponent).

The lowest attended season opener goes to the Athletics who saw 30,686 on Monday the 5th against the Mariner, followed by the Rays (36,973, opponent the Orioles.) The third lowest draw had little to do with disinterest and everything to do with ballpark seating capacity. The Sunday night season opener between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park drew 37,440. The Target Field opener for the Twins against the Red Sox was the fourth lowest attended opener at 38,145, although the game was deemed a sellout due to comps, VIPs, and media. By comparison, in the final opener at the Metrodome in 2009, the Twins drew 48,514 against the Mariners. If the Metrodome attendance figure were to be applied to 2010, as  opposed to the lower draw due to seating capacity at the new Target Field, league openers for 2010 would have seen an 0.8 percent increase as opposed to 0.1 percent decline. Rounding out the Top 5 lowest attended openers was the White Sox at 38,935 on Monday 4/5 against the Indians.

The Biz of Baseball will be reporting on attendance difference between each of the 30 openers and the second game of the season for each club in the league on Thursday.

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE A BREAKDOWN OF ATTENDANCE FOR EACH OF THE 30 OPENERS FOR THE 2010 SEASON IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

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MLB Sees 5.6 Percent Increase in Spring Training Attendance PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 April 2010 08:31
Spring Training Totals
Click to see Spring Training
attendance totals for each
team in Major League Baseball

In a sign that the economy may slowly be thawing, the average attendance for 2010 Spring Training showed a 5.6 percent increase over last year, Major League Baseball announced this week.

Spring Training games drew an average crowd of 7,596 fans in 2010, up from the average of 7,190 during 2009 Spring Training.  It marks the third highest average attendance ever during Spring Training, eclipsed only by 2008 (8,026 per game) and 1994 (7,709 per game).  Overall, 2010 Spring Training attracted 3,509,343 fans, the third highest total ever, throughout 462 dates.

(Select the image to see total attendance figures for Spring Training 2010)

With the World Baseball Classic occurring last year, Spring Training was cut short by one week in 2009. Increases, based on average attendance, allow for proper comparison between the two years.

Clubs that saw major increases included the Minnesota Twins (58 percent increase from an average of 7,209 to 11,366) due to exhibition play in the new Target Field. Other increases came by way of the Nationals who got their bump almost exclusively through interest in pitching phenom, and overall #1 draft selection, Stephen Strasburg. The Nats saw an increase of 61 percent from 4,381in 2009 to 7,059 this Spring Training. Other key gainers included the Orioles, who in their first spring in Sarasota, drew 102,219 fans, an average of 6,815 fans per game, a 39 percent increase from 2009, when the team played their final spring in Fort Lauderdale. The Angels pulled in an average of 9,793 this spring, up 43 percent from an average of 6,849 last spring.

On the decline side of the ledger, the Mets (down 43 percent) and Yankees (down 29 percent) saw decreases due to not having exhibition play in CitiField and New Yankee Stadium as they did last year. Even though the Reds opened a new spring training facility in Goodyear, AZ, the club saw a 20 percent decline in spring attendance (an average of 4,170 from 5,184 in 2009). The other key decline came by way of the Indians who saw a 21 percent decline in average attendance from 5,546 in 2009 to 4,374.

SELECT READ MORE TO SEE AVG. SPRING TRAINING ATTENDANCE FOR 2009, 2010 AND THE INCREASE OR DECLINE FOR EACH OF THE 30 TEAMS IN MLB

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That New Stadium Smell: Twins Already Sell 100,000 More Tickets than All of Last Season PDF Print E-mail
Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 26 March 2010 17:01

Twins Primary LogoIn a different time, and with a different place not coming online, Joe Mauer would not have had his eight-year, $184 million contract offer from the Minnesota Twins. What are we talking about? The Twins seeing increased revenues from the new Target Field opening up this season, including this news...

The Twins announced ticketing updates yesterday for the Inaugural Season at Target Field. To date, the Twins have sold more than 2.5 million tickets for the 2010 season. In comparison, the Twins sold 2.4 million tickets during the entire 2009 season.

As of Thursday, the following games are sold out at Target Field for its inaugural season:

The Opening Series against the Boston Red Sox (April 12,14,15), games against the Kansas City Royals (April 16-18), the Detroit Tigers (May 5), The Baltimore Orioles (May 6-9), the Chicago White Sox (May 11,12), the Milwaukee Brewers (May 21-23), the New York Yankees (May 25-27), the Texas Rangers (May 28-30), the Atlanta Braves (June 11-13), the Colorado Rockies (June 15-17), the Detroit Tigers (June 29,30), the Tampa Bay Rays (July 3,4), the Chicago White Sox (July 15-18), the Cleveland Indians (July 21), the Seattle Mariners (July 30 - Aug. 1), the Oakland Athletics (Aug. 13-15), the Chicago White Sox (Aug. 18), the Los Angeles Angels (Aug. 20-22) and the Oakland Athletics (Sept. 18,19).

Meanwhile, limited tickets remain for games against the Cleveland Indians (April 20-22), the Detroit Tigers (May 3,4) the Kansas City Royals (June 8-10), the Detroit Tigers (June 28), the Tampa Bay Rays (July 1,2), the Cleveland Indians (July 19,20) the Chicago White Sox (Aug. 17,19), the Detroit Tigers (Aug. 31 - Sept. 2), the Texas Rangers (Sept. 3-5) the Kansas City Royals (Sept. 6-8), the Oakland Athletics (Sept. 17), the Cleveland Indians (Sept. 20-22) and the Toronto Blue Jays (Sept. 30 - Oct. 3).

"While limited tickets still remain, we've seen unprecedented demand to secure seats at Target Field during the Inaugural Season," said Paul Froehle, senior director of ticket operations for the Twins. "Fans interested in purchasing tickets for the 2010 season are encouraged to act as soon as possible. The historic demand coupled with Target Field's smaller capacity (39,504) will make sellouts the norm during the 2010 campaign."

Season Tickets
To date the Twins have sold more than 24,000 full-season equivalents, more than twice the previous record of 11,000 full-season equivalents established in 2009. Traditional season ticket sales for the 2010 season will conclude Monday, March 29 at 5 p.m. Limited season ticket inventory remains in the Champions Club and Legends Club.


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Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. 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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