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The Indians are in deep financial trouble

May 21, 2010, 2:15 PM EDT

The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the Cleveland Indians are on pace to draw around 1.16 million people this year. The problem: The Indians’ front office made a budget that assumed attendance of
1.5 million.

Which was actually a conservative assumption, as the team drew 1.766 million last year.  A year that was profoundly disappointing and saw the team sell off two if its marquee players — Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez — in mid-season. I’m no economic expert, but assuming a 250K drop in gate was probably pretty smart. But obviously it’s been way worse than that, and the Indians look poised to finish in the red for a second year in row.  ”Even with revenue sharing, we won’t break even,” said the team’s V.P. of business operations.

Last year the Tribe  dumped salary to try and minimize the losses. Such a move will be much harder this year as two of the biggest contracts — Travis Hafner and Kerry Wood — look to be all but untradeable right now.  Grady Sizemore is hurt, but even then, he’s only owed a reasonable $5.6 million this year (though taking the $16.5 million total he’s owed for 2011 and 2012, buyout included, off the books could help). Jake Westbrook is owed $10 million or so. He might be moveable.

But that’s just working around the edges.  No matter what happens, it appears that Cleveland is going to continue to hemorrhage money for the time being.

  1. Detroit Michael - May 21, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Yahoo! No Chief Wahoo!

  2. Jeff V. - May 21, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Can’t say I believe them. With all the revenue sharing out there I just don’t see a team in the red unless they have a huge payroll and attendence problems. I am sure there is some accounting legerdemain going on.

  3. Howie B. - May 21, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    I call bull on this one. And Craig, I cannot believe you are buying in on this line of thinking. I am disappoint.
    Forbes has the Indians at $170 million in revenue. Even if you assume a drop of 500,000 in attendance, at an average of $30 per ticket, that’s only $15,000,000. Assume lost parking, food, merchandise, etc. of another $5 million and they are still at $150 million in revenue with a payroll topping out at $61 million (less if they start to dump salaries). I cannot imagine additional expenses of $89 million. Even if they do claim losses, I’m sure the entire Dolan family is on the payroll for millions, plus some Dolan slush fund entity, just like the Dodgers have.
    Please don’t cry for these guys. Seriously.
    Recaptcha: inflamed arms Booya!

  4. APBA Guy - May 21, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    I’m with Howie B on this, mainly on the strength of what we see here in the Bay Area with Oakland.
    Also keep in mind the early season attendance is usually a little lighter than the Summer, so their numbers could pick up some. The A’s this year have $ 160M in revenue projected (Forbes) and a payroll of $ 55M, before the expected Sheets dump. The A’s are very profitable, according to the Chron.
    So I’d be very skeptical of any claims about a team being in the red with those numbers, unless owner and family payouts are being counted as costs.
    Captcha: to bleakly

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