Vail Daily’s view: Pro sports suffer in downturn, but not Yankees
Vail, CO, Colorado
Last week, the New York Yankees spent nearly $250 million locking up free-agent pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, a quarter-billion smackers the winter before the fabled pinstripes move into the $1 billion-plus new Yankee Stadium.
The easy reaction is one of indignation that any team would be spending money like this in a time of recession when so many are struggling to stay in their homes, keep their jobs and make ends meet.
But the business of sports is a reflection of our society’s values. Despite protests to the contrary, we do value financially the talents of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s highest-paid player, more than we do our teachers, policemen and firefighters, people who contribute more to the common good than A-Rod.
The question is, how much longer can pro sports keep riding the gravy train? The Yankees are the Yankees, and with their new stadium, population center and TV money, they will likely continue to draw roughly 4 million fans and turn a profit. The same likely goes for the other flagship franchises of baseball and other sports.
But even the Yankees need opponents to exist, and that’s where they might have a problem. Major League Baseball and the National Football League have already announced layoffs in the past few month because of the economy.
ESPN.com reported recently that there are some National Hockey League teams literally on thin ice. The National Basketball Association can’t be far behind.
Like any business in Eagle County, pro leagues and teams have to be concerned about how much ” or little ” disposable income Americans have to spend on such frivolous ” in the big picture ” activities such as going to a game.
What’s more, how long can corporate America continue to be the golden goose when it comes to filling pricey seats and luxury boxes and engaging in naming rights? Philadelphia’s 76ers and Flyers play at the Wachovia Center.
The NFL’s Detroit Lions play at Ford Field, and baseball’s New York Mets will be moving into Citi Field, which is keeping its moniker despite its namesake’s financial troubles.
If professional sports aren’t careful in the upcoming years, teams might be playing to plenty of empty seats with their future viability in doubt.
Vail Daily Editorial Board