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The Yankees basically print money

Jul 2, 2010, 3:15 PM EDT

This is not a surprise because we all know the Yankees are a friggin’ cash cow, but just saying that is one thing. Seeing the real numbers is a different deal altogether. Get this report from CNBC’s Darren Rovell:

A revised bond rating issued by Standard & Poor’s today provides an
in-depth look at the New York Yankees’ 2009 revenues and it reveals that
the champions grossed $397 million in ticket revenue, including $72
million on the postseason alone.

In other words, the Yankees’ postseason ticket revenue alone brought in enough money to cover the payroll for 12 Major League teams this year.

Rovell goes on to report that the Yankees are suspected to take in about $600 million.  Even with a $200 million payroll, a luxury tax of $25 million and however much they pay in revenue sharing, they’re still able — if they choose to anyway — buy and sell more or less anyone they want.

That they have actually instituted something which approaches a budget in the past couple of years is fairly sobering.  I mean, according to Rovell, the Yankees entire season-long ticket revenue was $52 million in 1997 and $157 million in 2005.  Now that they’ve more than doubled that latter figure without raising the payroll that much, where is all that extra money going?

I have this image of a Bond villain or Cobra Commander-style island fortress being constructed somewhere. I have this image of the Yankees achieving nuclear capability before Iran does.  I’d quote that “Minnie the Moocher” lyric about a diamond car and a platinum wheel again if I hand’t just done it yesterday.

  1. Steve C - Jul 2, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    And yet somehow the citizens of New York helped pay for the new stadium. Where else were the Yankees going to go, California? That would be so “me too” of them.

  2. Mr. Heyward - Jul 2, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Maybe they’re funding Iran’s nuclear program w/ that extra scratch. Let’s not forget they are the evil empire.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 2, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    In a time when we have another professional sport, the NBA, talking about the top 3 free agents possibly banding together and joining the same team, it is funny to remember that it is exactly what the Yankees after the 2008 season when they failed to make the playoffs. Tampa Bay made the World Series and lost to the Phillies…wouldn’t it have been nice if they could afford to go out and improve their team by spending a half a billion dollars on the top 3 free agents at the time? No, that was for the “lowly” Yankees, who didn’t make the playoffs to do. Then of course they went out and won the 2009 World Series.
    But I’m not hating on the Yankees…they do what the system allows them to do…I’m hating on the system. Baseball needs a salary cap, or else every year will see the Yankees in the playoffs…and if they happen to miss once every 15 years, they have the ability to spend half a billion to get back into them.

  4. Reflex - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    I disagree. Baseball needs the Yankees. Realistically it needs the Dodgers or Mets to step up as the NL Yankees. It needs consistantly good teams to get fans fired up. As much as the rest of us love to hate on the Yankees, they are what keeps fans in cities like KC filling the seats a few times a year. As irritating as it is to see yet another nationally broadcast Yanks/Red Sox game, at the end of the day those matchups are what get the network the ratings that make it worth it to them to pay billions for broadcast rights. If there were no team like the Yanks, there would be no great storyline when the Yanks make the playoffs once again and a younger, cheaper team comes up against them.
    I dislike the Yanks as much as any baseball fan. Dislike the Red Sox too. But I don’t delude myself into believing they are bad for baseball. They are very good for baseball, even as perpetual winners.

  5. Simon DelMonte - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    I specifically asked the city to earmark all MY taxes for Citi Field. I didn’t pay a cent for Yankee Stadium II.
    I don’t suppose we will ever see the City of New York go to the Steinbrenners and say, “I see you are flush with cash. Care to reimburse us for that ballpark we helped you fund.” It doesn’t work that way, I know. But it is a nice fantasy.
    That said, it’s a fair question to ask how much money the Yankees really add to NYC’s coffers. A $600 million profit should result in a pretty large tax bill all by itself, never mind the revenue a World Series winning team generates for things like local businesses, souvenir sales and even subway use. I would love to see real numbers as to how long it takes to make up the cost of the new park in such ways.
    Because as much as I don’t root for the Yankees and as much as I don’t support corporate welfare (for any team, even my Mets and Giants and Knicks), there might be legitimate economic reasons for every New Yorker to root for the Yankees in October.

  6. r3volution11 - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    Baseball doesn’t need the Yankees. Baseball just needs competitive teams. When there’s teams that always have the capability of outspending other teams, it creates a disinterest among smaller market teams – Why support a team that you know will never go far into the playoffs, if make the playoffs at all?
    I could care less about the story lines of a team every once in a while making it to the playoffs when their payroll is only so much. That statement, and the storyline it creates, proves how much payroll plays a significance in determining the competitiveness of a team.

  7. Ditto65 - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    I’ve been to Phillies games – paid 10 bucks for a roast beef sandwich, 8 bucks for crabby fries, 9 bucks for a beer. I would like to see revenue figures for the the Phillies “Bank” Park.

  8. SQ44 - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    Chris Fiorentino, your argument has been noted and recorded (along with all the other “The Yankees bought another championship” arguments). On the other hand, since we are humans and are capable of using our brain to reason logically, I suggest that you do so. This argument is getting really old (and is still bad), so I’ll just make this nice and short. The Yankees’ payroll decreased after adding Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett because they had plenty of expiring contracts. They did not spend 500 million (yet anyways), that is for the entire cost for the players for the lifetime of their contract after 8 seasons of Sabathia, 7 of Teixeira, and 5 of Burnett. Your wording suggests that they magically added 500 million dollars to their team, which they didn’t.
    For reasons on why the rest of your argument is terrible, I would suggest you check here ( and here ( Cheers.

  9. Glenn - Jul 2, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    It’s actually been studied pretty extensively and there is no reason for any city to use tax dollars for a sports team. I can’t do the full argument justice here, but basically people have entertainment money and they use it. If baseball isn’t available, they spend it on something else. Sports cities have seen no decrease in revenue during pro team strikes.
    There’s no money for public parks, schools, libraries, etc., but there is tax money to give to the billionaire Steinbrenners. Public park area was confiscated for the new staadium, by the way. And most of the people in the luxury suites and boxes are getting tax breaks at the expense of the rest of us. The general public pays more taxes, pays more for their seats (artificially competing with the good seats subsidized by our own tax dollars), and get worse seats.

  10. DG1965 - Jul 2, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Your argument, Mr. SQ, is equally poor. The reality is that the Yankees signed the top two available pitchers and the overall number one available player in a single offseason, AND NO OTHER TEAM COULD POSSIBLY EVEN CONSIDER SUCH A COURSE OF ACTION. Yeah, there were teams ready to pay for Mr. Leigh Teixeira, and there might have been someone, somewhere, who’d top 120 million for Sabathia (but the Yankees went to $160 million and no one was even remotely close), and many more teams considered ponying up millions for Burnett.
    And on top of that, a season prior, they committed $300 million dollars to one player!
    The rest of baseball is left with the following:
    A. Thank their lucky stars that baseball is the kind of game where surprising things happen in the course of a series, so a team with gigantic payroll advantages can still get beat.
    B. Look forward to the time that Sabathia’s knees give out, and A-Rod and Jeter are in their 40s, overpaid and craptastic. If the Yankees really have a budget, then those will be great times. But I am afraid their budget will top 300 million then to make up for all the sunk costs. And that Braves superstar will be in pinstripes and anyone else they need will be theirs too.

  11. Schlom - Jul 2, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    I applaud the use of not only caps but also bold, along with sometimes both at the same time. I was tempted to ignore the post but those drew me in.

  12. avg joe - Jul 2, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    I think it’s erroneous to assume that everyone who loves baseball is a fair weather fan. And for those that do give up on their teams, it’s probably due to frustrating moves by the front office and/or ineffective managing; NOT the Yankees being too rich, or too good.

  13. Secretary Cleary - Jul 2, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    Nothing is going to change, no matter how smart we think we are making posts on this blog. They’re good and bad for baseball. They attract attention everywhere they go, making everybody in their wake a bunch of cash.
    They’ve been extremely lucky with good health to their players. They have $185 million committed this year to 12 players, who’re either in their prime (Cano, Tex, Sabathia) or just past their prime (Posada, Jeter, Arod, Rivera, Pettitte, Vazquez, Swisher, Granderson).
    At some point in the very near future (say 2011 or 2012), those injuries are going to start showing up to Jeter, Arod, Sabathia, Burnett, and people will wonder what the heck they were thinking committing all that money to guys past their prime.
    Yet by then, they’ll have replaced the expiring contracts with the latest, hottest, in-their-prime free agents like BJ Upton and Cliff Lee while paying the Cardinals to take AJ Burnett off their hands.
    I predict in 5 years from now, we’ll be having this same conversation on

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