Monday, October 1, 2007

The Collap$e: The Mets Come Up a Day Late and a Dollar Short

Much has already been written about the infamous collapse of the 2007 Mets, and doubtless more is to come (though Chuck has written the definitive work on the subject, and I don't think there is anything else to say). Whether you fault Willie Randolph, Omar Minaya, or a particular subset of players, it is almost beyond debate that this team was talented enough to play in October, but will instead be teeing off before a single postseason pitch is thrown. Personally, while there is plenty of blame to go around, I think the lion's share falls heavily on the shoulders of the more veteran players, who should have recognized the looming disaster from two weeks of uninspired play and spoken out more forcefully, whether on or off the field. I'm looking at you, Delgado and LoDuca.

I just have to go puke for one second I'll be right back . . . . ok, all better now.

Regardless, one angle that has not received too much press yet (in fairness, it hasn't even been 24 hours) is the financial impact that the slide will have on this franchise. We are often reminded that baseball is a business, and the last two weeks have hit the Mets' bottom line hard.

To come up with an estimate, you have to permit me a few assumptions. First, let's assume that every Mets home game would be a sell out (that's an easy one). Second, since it is generally accepted that this team is not quite as good as last year's team, let's give them four home games in the playoffs this year, instead of the six they had last year (in my hypothetical, they get bounced after Game 5 of the NLCS).

With about 55,000 seats at Shea, let's figure 5,000 tickets are comped for press and other industry people, for a grand total of 200,000 home playoff tickets ((55,000-5,000) x 4 = 200,000). Let's assume the average playoff ticket is $50 (it's actually a bit higher. My upper reserve tickets for the NLDS were $45 each, and the prices increase with each round of the playoffs). That's $10,000,000 in ticket revenue. But that's just the beginning:
  • Put another 32,000 cars in the lot over the four games (there are about 8000 spots at Shea), at $20 per parking space, and that's another $640,000.
  • Assume everyone at the stadium buys one beer and one hot dog (not everyone does, but some people buy a lot more than one beer, so an average of one per fan is about right, I think), at $7.25 and $4.50, respectively, and that's another $2.35 million.
  • Throw in another $10,000 for foam hands and t-shirts.
  • I have no clue what the television revenue sharing looks like, but I have to assume they pull another few million bucks in from TBS and/or FOX.
Add it up and you are somewhere between $15-$20 million gross, depending on where you estimate the television revenue. I was conservative on ticket prices, and I am sure there are other aspects of revenue that I am forgetting. TV revenue could also be more than where I am putting it, so my $15-$20 million estimate could be way too low. Now, that number could of course vary dramatically based on ticket prices, the number of games the team plays in the post-season, etc., etc. Also, you have to take into account all the costs associated with this revenue (many players earn playoff bonuses, you have to pay security, concession people, parking attendants, keep the lights turned on, etc., etc.). But even if the Mets see only half of the receipts in profit, though, they could still be looking at $10 million . . . maybe more. Now, this franchise makes enough money as it is, and I can only assume that the projections over the next five years look great (new stadium, new TV network, solid core of players who, despite the past two weeks, should be contenders every year, etc.), but $10 million is a pretty nice chunk of change over two weeks for most businesses.

Maybe we can pay Johan Santana with these?

It probably won't impact the direction this team takes, but it would be a shame if the 2008 Mets can't afford to pick up a front line starter for next year because the 2007 Mets couldn't afford to be bothered with all 162 games this year.

1 comment:

ChuckJerry said...

Certainly they are losing money by not making the playoffs, but I would hope any fiscally responsible team would not bank on the idea that they're making the playoffs just to break even, or even in regards to their payroll decisions.

Would you trade Jose Reyes for Johan Santana assunming you could sign him long term?