As the rest of baseball (and the sports world) tries to make sense of the current economic situation, they would do well to look at the Boston Red Sox; or perhaps avoid looking at them if they don’t want to be ridiculously depressed. Because according to the BOSTON GLOBE, even the venerable Red Sox - one of the most successful and well-managed teams in sports - are taking a hit, and if the Red Sox aren’t recession-proof, what does that mean for mere mortal teams?
As the story details, the Red Sox lost several major sponsorship deals in the off-season, including big money agreements with Nikon and PC Connection, replacing them with smaller deals. (I don’t think the Bermuda Board of Tourism is going to bring in the same money.) In addition, luxury box sales are down, and ratings for games on the Red Sox-owned NESN were down 20 percent last season.
Buried deep in an excellent column by PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE writer Ed Bouchette, a piece we found via PROFOOTBALLTALK, is one of the best articulated attacks on the NFL in the economic recession, and it’s completely cogent. According to Bouchette, NFL teams are laying off workers to hedge their profits, not because they need to in order to avoid losing money.
(Is this team losing money? Not a chance.)
He’s absolutely right. If teams like the Redskins were really feeling the crunch of the recession, they wouldn’t be spending $100 million on Albert Haynesworth. Instead, the NFL as a whole is trying to paint a dire economic picture as it heads into a standoff with the NFL Players Association because of the lack of a collective bargaining agreement.
The interest is there. The payroll is there. The only thing that isn’t there for the Yankees, it seems, are the fans. According to business of sports writer Richard Sandomir in THE NEW YORK TIMES, the Yankees are struggling to sell any premium seats or luxury boxes … and they’re getting desperate.
(See those empty luxury boxes? They’ll be empty during the season, too.)
It’s probably not too surprising that even the Yankees would have a hard time moving tickets that cost $325-$2,500 in an economic recession, but Sandomir brings up an interesting corrolary, with those seats still unsold, it will be even harder to fill them with Alex Rodriguez out of the lineup for up to four months.
Everyone has it bad during the current economic downturn, but some may have it even worse than others. That includes professional athletes who made really made forays into the world of free enterprise. If you had Derrick Coleman on the list of former ballers turned failed entrepreneurs that popped into your head, pat yourself on the back; ol’ DC is going out of business, literally.
According to FANHOUSE’s expert sleuthing, the former would-be star turned uber-bust is having to liquidate everything he owns. Yes, everything, at a whopping 75 percent off. It’s like one of those “electronic liquidation events” you see advertised at “Enter Your City’s Convention Center Here” every weekend, except everything was once owned by one of the biggest NBA Draft flops in recorded history. Just think, you too can own the porcelain toilet from Derrick Coleman’s spare bedroom! And it’s 75 percent off! What a steal!
If you needed any more proof that the economic downturn is starting to seep into sports, here it is: The Columbus Blue Jackets, who happen to not be one of the professional hockey teams on the verge of bankruptcy (see under: Coyotes, Phoenix) are offering a payment “installment” plan to help fans pay for seats at upcoming games. As the unpronounceable yet terrific Greg Wyshynski writes in YAHOO’s PUCK DADDY blog — which may soon double as the “sad economic news in sports blog” — this just can’t be a good sign.
(Blue Jackets vs. Predators. Actual attendance: 2)
According to the team’s web site, the “payment plan” starts on Dec. 29th after paying the initial $10 when the seats are purchased. And what do you get for your 150 clams? Tickets to three weekend games … in the upper bowl. Lower bowl seats are twice the price. Ouch.
That’s right, it takes installments of $20 just to see a hockey game in Ohio in decent seats. Sure, the Blue Jackets may be paying steep rent for their downtown Nationwide Arena, but there has to be a better way to get people in the door to some of the most attractive games on the schedule (they can’t sell weekend tickets? Really?) than installment plans of $10-20, right? Evidently not.
Is athlete endorsement money drying up? Ever since Tiger Woods split with GM last week, there is concern among super-wealthy athletes that they might have to start settling for earning just the millions they get for playing their sport. The horror.
But the economic troubles are not just hitting the endorsement market. With the NBA and NFL collective bargaining agreements up for renewal in the next couple of years, one sports consultant is saying that players associations are going to need a “dose of reality” or face not having a league to play in anymore.
Alright! Rock and/or roll! Holiday week! Woo! We’re already plotting our early escape Thursday for a long weekend. Summer! Good times! Nothing could ruin this week. We’ll just open the REUTERS Web site for confirmation of our “rock-out-with-our-blog-out” bias and then scuttle off to work…
“… almost 15 percent of those polled said they are attending fewer sporting events this year, and most of those people cited the weak economy as the reason. About 28 percent are spending less on food and souvenirs…”
“”(Sports leagues are) servicing those folks (corporations) like the dickens now because they know they can’t afford to lose them at a time when they might be scaling back their marketing, advertising and sponsorship pledges,” (an analyst) added.”
“But (NASCAR’s) largely blue-collar fan base is feeling the pinch. While several tracks still sell out, others have seen crowds shrink.”
“Price is just about to drive gas ballooning extinct in this country… ”
Screw this; we’re headed back to bed to throw the covers over our heads and cuddle with Sir Hugsalot, our recession-proof teddy bear, until all of this passes. You’re right, Sir Hugsalot, there won’t be $200-a-barrel oil. Everything will be alright. La la la la we can’t hear you under the covers, REUTERS.