Sports consultant calls Yanks 'not-for-profit business'
Marc Ganis, a quotable consultant who has been a regular in sports business columns such as mine for many years, made a brief appearance in my Wednesday newspaper article in the wake of the Teixeira signing.
Full disclosure: He has done work for the Yankees in the past - including on the financing of the new stadium. But he had some interesting things to say about the team's most recent spending spree.
Most eye-popping remark: "The Yankees are a not-for-profit business from the Steinbrenners' perspective."
Click below for more.On the Yankees' free-spending ways:
"The Yankees get criticized because many say it's an unfair advantage. My question is, don't the Mets have the same advantage? The Mets play in exactly the same market and are moving into what some might say is a better stadium for revenues. They also own a regional sports network. Why is it that the Yankees can do this and the Mets can't?
"It's because winning is more important to George Steinbrenner than to any other owner in Major League Baseball, and arguably more than in any sport. Just as the Yankees spend money at a different level, George's focus on winning is also at a different level. The Yankees are a not-for-profit business from the Steinbrenners' perspective.
"[Their attitude is], as much money as we take in, and we take in a lot, we're going to put right back on the field. We charge top dollar for tickets and give you the top players possible. That's the bargain. Now, you could take a different approach. You could take the Mets' approach, which is still very generous in terms of salaries, or you could take a Florida Marlins approach at the other extreme."
On whether in this economy those "top-dollar" ticket prices and salaries will hit a wall:
"I think we're pushing the envelope here in terms of some of the ticket prices and some of the player salaries."
On the Yankees being in a unique position this offseason because of their $85 million in expiring contracts and their new stadium:
"This is such an unusual year. The other 29 teams in baseball this offseason should just let the Yankees pick up whoever they want and then just go after everyone else. They can't allow the Yankees to set the market pricing. And when agents try to do it, they have to simply dismiss them. It's like the old days where you have to throw out the Russian judge. You throw out the Yankees and the Marlins and take the average of the rest."
On the Yankees being criticized for benefiting from tax-free, city-backed bonds:
"I think that's one of the great red herrings out there. The Yankees have made a $1.3 billion investment with a 40-plus-year commitment in the South Bronx. Someone tell me what other business is doing that."
Ganis said the Yankees are picking up costs other teams with new stadiums have not, and insisted tax breaks in financing are "standard procedure. There is nothing exceptional about it."
On the Yankees' big contracts:
"I can appreciate why some would view these contracts as so extreme they are obscene in this economic downturn. What is more obscene is paying an eight-game winner millions. If you're paying for performance, that's one thing. If you're paying mediocre players eight figures, that's ludicrous."
Ganis said the Yankees could simply have pocketed the $85 million in expiring contracts - plus additional luxury tax savings - signed perhaps one big-ticket pitcher and stopped.
"Do you think they would sell one less ticket if they didn't sign all these players? I don't think Steinbrenner gets anywhere near enough credit for putting his economic interests on the back burner in the interests of fielding a winning team . . . He could have pocketed a profit of $95 million to $100 million. Instead he said, I'm going to buy more players with this money. He may be the only owner in baseball who would make that call."