capital one credit card cashback bonus credit card protection paypal paypal uk credit card what is credit card apr rate online payday loans no credit check chase visa credit card payment 100 day pay loans best cash rewards credit card canada 2013 best free balance transfer credit cards icici platinum chip credit card army pay advance regulation credit card merchant agreement visa hbc mastercard benefits online cash advance direct lenders chase credit card fraud investigation process 0 cash transfer credit cards tesco bank credit card login starbucks gold card wiki us airways mastercard does commonwealth bank have a visa debit card high limit easy to get credit cards icici bank credit card apply eligibility shell gas credit card application short term loan very bad credit what;s the best first credit card to get the best credit card for me bad credit loan lenders online discover credit card application status what is the best credit card to apply for with no credit best credit card to get free flights chase prepaid visa card if i apply for a walmart credit card online can i use it in the store home trust secured credit card canada credit cards bad credit no annual fee list of credit card issuers in canada secured credit card reviews bank of america best iphone credit card processing what is a cash advance fee wells fargo how do credit card travel points work capital one credit card address cheapest credit card machines for small business petro canada gas credit card can you buy prepaid credit cards at shoppers drug mart best iphone credit card machine credit card payments on android hdfc credit card rewards catalogue platinum chase credit card compare apply for a credit card online with bad credit apply free visa credit card online credit card settlement process in dubai how long does it take to get credit card once approved best credit card processing app for ipad highest credit card limit possible apply for student loans with bad credit us bank credit card payment processing how to get a us credit card for non-residents how many credit cards for good credit apply online icici credit card india can you apply for an ikea credit card in store master credit card india arco gas credit card fee apple your credit card was declined santander 123 credit card cash back list capital one credit cards no foreign transaction fees new york and company credit card payment site top 10 mastercard credit cards canada cash back offer credit cards india best airline rewards credit cards 2013 orchard bank secured credit card visa virtual credit cards free credit card processing charges uk balance transfer credit cards for fair credit ez payday advance olathe ks compare travel rewards credit cards in canada platinum card american express limit best credit card to get for first timers long term loan bad credit no guarantor best buy credit cards contact us best delta skymiles credit card online loan lenders rbc best visa card compare canadian visa credit cards best buy reward zone credit card login best credit card reward offers 2013 cash advance ukiah ca zurich credit card insurance best credit cards for building credit 2012 american express credit card fees for merchants bank of america alaska airlines credit card business best business credit card for travel rewards guaranteed payday loans direct lenders how much money to get a black credit card how to apply secured credit card in bpi secured credit card canada compare secured short term loans online nab low rate credit card interest rate which credit card bad credit car finance what is the best credit card to get for travel rewards bank rakyat credit card application form how to choose a credit card uk best chase business credit card how to get past credit card verification 3 biggest credit card companies best credit card to have in singapore top 10 best secured credit cards visa credit card for bad credit unsecured why do i need a credit card for free apps on itunes intuit gopayment credit card terminal app credit score to apply for sears credit card cash advance fee halifax credit card consolidate credit card and student loan debt bdo credit card application form westpac online loan calculator royal bank of canada credit card fees list unsecured credit cards bad credit student credit card bad credit history using us credit cards in canada best small business credit card 2012 canada equifax credit score best reward credit card canada 2012 can you apply for a credit card online best buy credit card activation payday lenders uk 2012 nurit 8000 wireless credit card machine walmart mastercard review leather credit card holder ebay how to get verified on paypal without a bank account or credit card accept credit cards online australia disney chase credit card rewards rbc visa cards comparison is it possible to get a credit card with bad credit australia delta credit card canada how to change credit card on ebay for buyers corporate credit card policy guidelines citi travel rewards credit cards marriott credit card authorization form fairfield inn discover credit cards compare simmons first visa platinum credit cards capital one zero interest credit card discover cash back rewards credit cards citibank balance transfer credit card secured credit card banks credit card number location discover best buy rewards visa card bank of america secured credit card visa macally secured credit card terminal for iphone and ipod touch standard chartered credit card bank statement worldpay test credit card numbers secured orchard credit card credit card companies with uk call centre types of orchard bank credit cards capital one small business credit card online credit card processing companies abn amro credit card apply online in india sbi credit card helpline number bangalore free credit card advice does best buy accept visa debit cards online paypal merchant credit card fees credit report bad credit car finance essex aspire credit card contact number which credit card has the best rewards system using us credit cards in uk barclays credit card ppi complaints payday loans for bad credit apply for credit card online hsbc smartphone credit card terminal how do i get a credit card if i have a bad credit rating wells fargo debit visa card balance no fee prepaid reloadable credit card secured major credit cards how to get the best credit card rate axis bank credit card apply phone number free prepaid business credit cards phone number for chase business credit cards apply credit card online malaysia payment address for bank of america credit cards hsbc gold credit card minimum payment apply for a credit card with a 5000 dollar limit fnb online loan application prepaid credit cards visa numbers amazon uk credit card security jc penny credit card find pre approved credit cards offers free visa card numbers 2013 canada 21 month no interest credit card where to buy prepaid credit cards uk loans with bad credit no guarantor credit card for students with no income how do i sign up for a credit card with no credit cibc aeroplan credit card travel insurance get a credit card with bad credit score credit card company mastercard uk management services ltd best cashback credit card 2012 singapore credit card services lower interest rate calls walmart discover credit card login page prepaid credit card reviews canada good credit and credit cards best business visa card australia hsbc classic credit card online application chinatrust visa cash card enrollment form hypercom wireless credit card terminal if i apply for a walmart credit card can i use it today barclays us credit card shell gas credit card offers amazon credit card points not showing up quick online payday loans south africa what if i dont pay advance america best free credit card with no foreign transaction fee visa debit gift card commonwealth bank petrol cashback credit card malaysia what to wear with a gold cardigan courtyard marriott credit card authorization form how do i set up a credit card merchant account no fee credit card transfer balances starting a new credit card company us prepaid credit card paypal sample visa credit card number philippines credit card payment protection refund credit card points rewards comparison park hyatt credit card authorization form buy virtual credit cards with paypal marathon gas credit card how to calculate credit card interest per month best credit cards in canada 2012 interest free credit cards halifax td canada trust premium credit cards chase low credit credit cards where to send old navy credit card payments canada credit card promotions interest free balance transfer credit cards canada airline credit card reviews 2013 0 balance transfer credit cards ireland instant cash payday loans south africa how to get easy credit card approval credit card applications online in india should i apply for paypal credit card credit card types in icici amex black card points i want to apply for a maurices credit card prepaid credit cards uk online pay monthly loans unemployed compare air miles credit cards natwest credit card payment protection anz platinum card travel insurance terms and conditions how to load paper in verifone credit card machine credit card processing application wireless credit card terminal malaysia td visa toronto lost card hdfc credit card emi interest calculator apply for discover credit card student free gas reward cards wells fargo credit card approval odds compare low interest credit cards australia southwest credit card free flight offer royalty free credit card logos credit card comparison australia rewards how to pay your credit card bill online cibc zurich credit card insurance reviews best store credit cards to build credit hsbc credit card application pinoyexchange best business credit cards for gas direct payday loan lenders online prepaid credit cards free best place for a college student to get a credit card chase best buy credit card application online payday loans direct lenders no teletrack balance transfer barclaycard free air mile credit cards low interest credit cards balance transfer canada virtual credit card prepaid paypal shell credit card uk citi can online payday lenders sue apply for barclays credit card online how to offer credit card settlement of debt legit cash advances online aqua credit card cash withdrawal limit free real visa credit card numbers best credit cards for bad credit rating discount payday advance loans plus size black cardigan wells fargo virtual credit card number fast payday loans 24/7 visa card application pdf instant response credit cards canada cash back no fee credit cards personal loans with bad credit online free fico score no credit card check the status of a chase credit card application sbi irctc credit card online payment wells fargo credit card payment plan chase credit card minimum payment interest chase credit cards for no credit history credit card comparison chart malaysia compare all credit cards canada sbi credit card interest charges unsecured credit cards for bad credit no credit check high interest credit cards for bad credit canada sbi credit card personal loan western union gold card points uk how do i pay my maurices credit card buy international visa gift card online guaranteed payday loan lenders uk citi aadvantage credit card review payday lenders direct bad credit best visa credit card canada no annual fee when will my capital one credit limit increase apply online credit card hdfc bank how to apply for a credit card if i have no credit business credit card natwest interest free credit cards hsbc payday loan direct lender no credit check uk how do banks work out interest on credit cards best credit card approval rates best buy credit card no interest prepaid credit card uk free credit card machines for small business best rates bank of america credit card fraud protection phone number instant payday loan no credit check what prepaid credit cards work online credit cards bad credit history instant decision uk online payday loan lenders only 0 balance transfer credit cards for average credit compare credit cards uk rewards credit card with no annual fee macy;s credit card cash advances citi american airlines credit card 40000 applying for chase credit cards square iphone credit card processing uk barclays black card credit limit marriott credit card promotions uk i need a credit card today with bad credit credit card uk call centre cara bayar credit card bank mega canadian credit cards rewards comparison no credit loans uk cash back credit card canada best portable credit card machines easy credit card approval bad credit australia capital one small business credit card rewards cash back rewards credit cards 2012 free credit cards weebly pay a walmart credit card payment how to pay off my credit card debt fast sign up for bank of america student credit card credit card companies uk fake visa credit card numbers that work cash loans for bad credit direct lender credit card uk what about prepaid travel credit cards and overseas atms best value credit card rewards australia us bank credit card balance transfer fee 0 balance transfer credit union credit cards icici credit card apply online in india should i close low limit credit cards ulster bank credit card numbers unsecured credit cards instant approval bad credit td canada trust visa debit verified by visa direct auto loan lenders bad credit free credit card reader paypal bank of america visa rewards card login pay off credit card debt or car loan first credit card interest calculator air miles rewards cards applications discover credit card accepted uk average merchant credit card transaction fees where to buy credit card gift cards in canada how to redeem hdfc credit card points for titanium card loans for bad credit without guarantor usaa american express credit card login should you pay off high interest credit cards first capital one small business credit card reviews what are the different types of credit cards available best international travel credit card anz credit card travel insurance claim fake credit card number security code and expiration date loans for bad credit direct lenders make free virtual credit cards apply for barclaycard platinum credit card how does credit card payment processing work starbucks gold card uk cibc credit card balance phone number fast cash loans online credit card no credit check canada how to redeem your icici credit card points credit card scanner for android prepaid reloadable credit cards walmart best buy canada credit card apply citibank credit card types india american express black card alternatives capital one credit cards no international fee gift visa card amazon rewards 660 visa card application capital one balance transfer fee orchard bank credit card for bad credit british airways airmiles credit card uk best credit cards to rebuild credit after bankruptcy chase secured credit card usa rebuild credit cards no annual fee cibc credit card services contact us hdfc credit card application status by reference number secured credit card bad credit canada personal bad credit loans online does colorado dmv accept credit cards hdfc credit cards payment gateway sbi credit card status checking small online loans uk first premier bank credit card login page payday loan online no faxing credit check credit card payment machine rental pay first premier credit card bill credit card apps for windows mobile list of payday lenders uk how can i apply for a orchard bank credit card square iphone credit card service tesco credit card app can you get cash from a walmart visa gift card credit card offer letter sample iphone 5 credit card charger credit card fees explained pnb credit card application form free download african bank credit card limit increase online credit card swipe app for windows phone best place to get online loan easiest credit card to get with bad credit australia credit card number and cvv and expiration date business cash advance uk pay advance tax online pnb how to apply for a credit card in hdfc real free credit card numbers 2012 what can i do about unauthorized credit card charges capital one credit card settlement 2012 online visa card generator how to get a personal loan with bad credit australia fidelity 2 cash back credit card is horizon gold credit card real axis bank credit card payment hsbc costco credit card login do you need a credit card for itunes apps citi corporate credit card customer care free online visa card numbers bank of america secured credit card upgrade credit cards for bad credit no processing fee post office platinum card credit limit prepaid visa credit cards canadian reloadable credit cards is it worth getting a loan to pay off credit cards chase best buy credit card customer service hacked visa credit card numbers 2013 how to improve credit rating chase freedom visa credit card phone number unsecured credit cards for bad credit canada procedure to pay advance tax online interest free credit card transfer balance how to redeem hdfc world credit card reward points hsbc 0 credit card offers pc richard credit card customer service phone number credit card for bad credit instant decision cash loans for bad credit rating apply for personal loan with bad credit how can i track my icici credit card application status hsbc credit cards online payment compare business credit cards take credit card payments online without merchant account marriott rewards signature credit card login rbs black credit card travel insurance lost tesco credit card online tesco finance online credit card sbi credit card helpline chennai unsecured credit cards no credit check credit cards 0 finance offers guarantor loans online uk credit card debt relief canada government program icici credit card settlement letter format best low rate credit card shell master credit card login easy online payday loans how to get a business loan with bad credit and no collateral transfer credit card balance to low interest loan 0 percent interest free credit card how to negotiate with credit card companies to payoff wells fargo visa platinum credit card rewards do you need a credit card for paypal on ebay credit card offers 0 purchases apply for capital 1 credit card best corporate credit card singapore toys r us rewards credit card login call sears credit card services is chase credit card a visa or mastercard usa credit card non resident samsung offers for icici credit cards usaa credit card cash advance limit walmart mastercard credit card best intro apr credit card citibank platinum credit card india us bank chip and pin credit card capital one credit limit increase steps value city credit card
Home Pete Toms What is the Future of the Blue Jays and Rogers Cable?

Like Shoot to Thrill - An AC/DC Tribute on Facebook!

An authentic tribute of AC/DC that covers the best of the Bon Scott era and the best of Brian Johnson's material

Who's Online?

We have 343 guests online

Atom RSS

What is the Future of the Blue Jays and Rogers Cable? PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 80
Pete Toms Article Archive
Written by Pete Toms   
Monday, 02 February 2009 15:32

A Biz of Baseball OriginalIn December, The Biz of Baseball reported on speculation that the passing of Toronto Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers (President and CEO of Rogers Communications Inc.) will spur a sale of the baseball franchise. Why have big media companies like RCI (Disney, Time Warner, News Corp., Tribune Co.) walked away from MLB ownership? Are the Blue Jays a positive or negative contributor to RCI’s bottom line? Why are the Blue Jays reducing payroll? If RCI sells the Blue Jays, who will be the new owner? Has CEO Paul Beeston returned to the Blue Jays for the short term or the long term? Is MLB viable over the long term in Toronto without a new “ballpark”? Is a move out of the AL East necessary to rejuvenate the fanbase?

The past three seasons saw RCI increase the Jays payroll to the middle ranks of MLB. During that time the Blue Jays signed Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and Aaron Hill to long term contracts. Prior to that, (03 – 05) Blue Jays payroll had resided in the bottom third of MLB clubs. (Figures obtained from USA Today Salaries Database) Not coincidentally, the increase in payroll corresponded with three consecutive winning seasons for the Blue Jays. (The Blue Jays last posted three consecutive winning seasons from 98 – 00. A return to a more parsimonious approach to payroll is evidently in the cards. Peter J. Schwartz predicted in Forbes:

The passing of founder Ted Rogers earlier this month created a power vacuum within the Canadian telecom giant. The company owns sports media properties across several platforms, as well as baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, and is spearheading that city's attempt to lure the NFL's Buffalo Bills. Look for Chairman Alan Horn to take charge and immediately cut spending on sports businesses, particularly the Jays.

Mr. Schwartz’s prediction appears accurate. With the departure of AJ Burnett via free agency and Frank Thomas’ contract off the books, the Jays payroll will decline from the high $90 million range last season to the current mid $80 million range. (There is speculation that the payroll will shrink further over the course of the 09 season) Despite the departure of Burnett and injuries to starting pitchers Dustin McGowan (out until at least mid May) and Shaun Marcum (out for the season), the Blue Jays are telling their fans that, at present, they have no plans to sign any prominent free agents. Instead, the off season focus appears to be on improving bottom line results. Jordan Bastian reported on the Blue Jays “State of the Franchise” event:

Instead of pursuing the big names on the open market, the Blue Jays appear content with filling their roster holes internally, offering playing time for some of their younger players in the process. Beeston said the goal -- beyond providing a few of the club's prospects big league experience -- is to find a way to break even financially this season,...

Jeff Blair reported similarly:

With Beeston making clear at Tuesday's state-of-the-franchise function that Rogers Communications will no longer put up with losses of $10-million to $20-million (all currency U.S.) - a given in past years...

Select Read More to see the rest of this original article

RCI’s focus on the Blue Jays bottom line is not limited to constraining player investments. December saw RCI cut approximately 100 positions at Rogers Media, a third coming from the Blue Jays. reported on the layoffs; “Like all media and communications companies, Rogers faces a more difficult economy, with little growth and a squeeze on advertising revenues that could affect its TV stations, magazines and radio operations.” January brought with it more of the same bad news for RCI.

The Blue Jays’ relative frugality this off season is hardly unique in MLB. Industry wide concerns about the near and long term future of the economy have led to a drastic decline in free agent signings. RCI and the Blue Jays enter the 09 season facing new and renewed economic challenges.

  • A southern Ontario market greatly dependent on the auto industry.
  • The loss of a major sponsor, GM.
  • The recent announcement that a TV broadcast partner has declined to renew. (Another example of the migration of sports to cable from over the air broadcasts)
  • A “loonie” worth approximately 20% less than a year ago. (To help compensate for a weak Canadian dollar, earlier this decade the Blue Jays were the beneficiary of “currency equalization payments” from MLB)

While Blue Jays executives speak publicly about minimizing losses, with plenty of evidence to support their concerns, the subject of “related party transactions” makes it difficult to determine the Blue Jays impact on RCI’s bottom line. RCI is the Blue Jays landlord, pays for the stadium naming rights, buys stadium signage, will broadcast roughly three fourths of the Blue Jays schedule on their RSN “Sportsnet”, which in turn collects carriage fees from RCI owned Rogers Cable. (Rogers Cable has a near monopoly in the Blue Jays southern Ontario market) Forbes describes RCI’s relationship with the Blue Jays:

Rogers Communications, which provides cable television distribution and wireless services, uses its ownership of the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre to sell and cross-promote its nonbaseball businesses. Rogers connects with its biggest audience, southern Ontario, by highlighting its telecom services at the stadium... Rogers also televises Blue Jays games on its cable channel, Rogers Sportsnet.

In the most recent Forbes valuations of MLB franchises they reported the Blue Jays were one of three clubs to post a loss in 07, but provided some context for these calculations.

This year sees 3 clubs, the Blue Jays ($1.8 million), Red Sox ($19.1 million), and Yankees ($47.3 million) posting "losses".


Meanwhile Rogers Communications, which owns the Blue Jays, their stadium and the cable channel that televises its games, derives huge benefits from owning the Blue Jays not reflected on its team's P&L statement."

While there is a wide range of opinion regarding the Blue Jays profitability, and untangling the web of “related party transactions” is impossible for anybody outside of RCI, there is greater consensus amongst the Toronto sports media that the Blue Jays will soon be on the market. At least three Toronto baseball writers, Bob Elliott, Jeremy Sandler and Jeff Blair have stated as much since the passing of Ted Rogers. (No doubt RCI is the source of the speculation)

If the speculation is accurate and RCI divests itself of the Blue Jays, it will mark the end of media conglomerate ownership in MLB. Tribune Co. (Cubs), Disney (Angels), Time Warner (Braves) and News Corp (Dodgers) all have (or will soon in the case of Tribune) exited the ownership ranks of MLB this decade. (Liberty Media’s ownership of the Braves is a temporary anomaly, see here) Daniel Kaplan wrote about the trend in 07.

It was only a decade ago that conventional wisdom had it that media companies were going to take over baseball. Media conglomerates had a notable presence in MLB’s team ownership ranks, and the rationale seemed overwhelming: Rather than pay the teams for their media rights, own them instead.

Now, that reasoning has fallen flat....


“There was a period of time when everybody thought they needed to control content and not pay outrageous rights fees to owners,” said Randy Vataha, a sports investment banker and president of Game Plan. “What happened when they owned the team, in order for the team to be competitive, they had to spend.”

The teams became lost in large companies and became headaches from both an operational standpoint and from a public relations perspective. No one knows that better than Tribune Co., which was consistently hammered in the local press for its stewardship of the Cubs, which famously have not won a title since 1908.

Jeremy Sandler’s aforementioned piece reveals that RCI views the Blue Jays in the same way.

The new CEO will eventually determine the future course of Rogers, but media companies no longer need to own sports teams to get access to their content. Rogers' company owns the Sportsnet cable television network, which carried 100 of the Blue Jays' 162 games last season, and the all-sports radio station The Fan 590 in Toronto, which carries all the games.

"It is natural for media companies to get out of ownership of sports teams and stick to their core competencies," said the official who asked not to be named. "They're selling them because they can compete for content now."

The spring '05 edition of the academic journal NINE, included the essay, Whatever happened to synergy? MLB as media product. The essay attempts to explain why the aforementioned media conglomerates (excluding RCI) are no longer owners of MLB franchises. Some of the explanations contain parallels to RCI’s relationship with the Blue Jays.

The general state of the economy strongly affects corporate behavior. The Disney-Angels, News Corp.-Dodgers, and Time Warner-Turner-Braves deals all took place during a robust economy. Although the corporate economy appears to be trending upward again, the slump of the early 2000s is at least partially responsible for the drive to sell teams.

The urge to purge should be expected. Throughout history companies have concentrated resources on their "core" assets in a troubled economy. For example, in the early 1970s, CBS divested such assets as Wurlitzer pianos and, of special concern in this article, the New York Yankees.

The essay also explains how the baseball franchises were of value in establishing RSNs. Once those goals were achieved, the value of the ballclubs to the media conglomerates was diminished. Is there a corollary in RCI’s acquisition of the both the Blue Jays and the RSN “Sportsnet” in 2000 / 2001? Again, from “Whatever happened to synergy? MLB as media product.”

Some of the companies did benefit from team ownership before cashing out. Braves games were key to the development of Time Warner's Turner South RSN.... Similarly on a regional and national level, News Corp.'s FOX network and RSNs continue to be partners of MLB despite selling the Dodgers. In both cases an argument easily can be made that owning a specific team was a short-run means of creating or maintaining a relationship with baseball and not a core asset that needed to be sustained.

Then there are the deals that did not work out. At the time of the Angels purchase, Disney, through its then-new acquisition of ESPN, hoped to create a major southern California RSN, a move precluded by FOX's head start in developing its Fox Sports Nets RSNs there and throughout the nation.

Again from the same essay, the argument that ownership of a professional sports team does not “fit” the corporate template.

In addition, there are payroll taxes that limit excess spending (investment) in individual teams. This reduces the advantage deep-pocket corporations have over the financially weaker competitors. This may or may not be good for the sports leagues and their fans, but it makes absolutely no sense for a large media conglomerate. Why bother with such a small entity that greatly restricts your ability to maximize your profits? Obviously, there are those like Steinbrenner, who is willing to pay the penalty (luxury tax) for spending above the "soft cap." However, his reasons for doing so are an interesting mix of both financial acumen and, perhaps more importantly, psychological need. The latter is disdained in the modern corporate world.

The Blue Jays announced in October the appointment of Paul Beeston as “interim” CEO. Mr. Beeston has a long and successful history with the Blue Jays as well as serving as MLB’s COO from 97-02. While Mr. Beeston’s role in his return is officially to “assist with the identification and recruitment” of a permanent CEO, the Toronto media have speculated that his return will be more permanent. Jeff Blair wrote prior to the “State of the Franchise” event;

...the guess here is at least as many people are intrigued about Beeston's status as interim chief executive officer. — "Interim? Paul Beeston isn't an interim anything," Pat Gillick said at the World Series...


Tonight, Paul Beeston will be an interim man whom many people can't believe is doing this on an interim basis, explaining what he hopes is only an interim situation.

Mr. Beeston recently acknowledged that the search for his successor is progressing more slowly than he originally anticipated. Jordan Bastian reported on Mr. Beeston’s update on the hiring process:

The interim tag attached to Paul Beeston's title as the Blue Jays' president and CEO isn't going to be removed any time soon. Toronto is still actively searching for a permanent replacement for Beeston, though it appears the process will carry into Spring Training.

More recently there have been personnel changes on the baseball side of the Blue Jays which the media believe Beeston was actively involved in. Assistant general manager Bart Given was dismissed, officially due to a desire to “redeploy dollars”. The Canadian Press reported that the official justification “... will do little to quiet the whispers now making the rounds, with even one suggestion that given the timing, Beeston must have made the move as a show of his authority over GM J.P. Ricciardi.” Subsequently the Blue Jays announced the addition of four professional scouts. Robert MacLeod reported, “Ricciardi credited interim club president Paul Beeston for convincing the hierarchy at Rogers Communications, the owner of the Jays, of the importance of increasing the scouting staff.” Such a hands on approach to the Blue Jays baseball operations is seemingly at odds with Mr. Beeston’s stated desire to soon replace himself as CEO.

If Mr. Beeston’s intent is to remain Blue Jays CEO for a longer period than he initially stated, the obvious question is, why? Mr. Beeston was Blue Jays president & CEO during the World Series winning seasons of 92 and 93. Why return to the same position under a cost cutting ownership which is perhaps positioning the club for a sale? Some wonder if Mr. Beeston’s role is more ambitious. Jeff Blair;

“...the naming of Paul Beeston as "interim" CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays raises some interesting questions. First, if Beeston's responsibility is to help guide the search for a new CEO ... well, why couldn't the out-going CEO, Paul Godfrey, do that? .....

Could it be that we are on the verge of a seismic shift in Toronto's sports landscape, one that will eventually lead to the marriage of MLSE and Rogers, either through an amalgamation or one of them buying out the other?.... I remember Godfrey telling me in a very early conversation after he assumed the Blue Jays job that he believed, ultimately, the entire area of the city from the Rogers Centre down to the Air Canada Centre would at some point be under the control of some joint arrangement between the city's two dominant sports groups. That it was "inevitable." .......I just think that Tuesday's move is about much, much, more than who will turn the lights on and off at the Rogers Centre for Blue Jays games or who will be signing or trading baseball players. I think this is going in several directions, including a new stadium.... if you were going to pick a guy to pull off the biggest sports play in the history of this country, let alone this city, Beeston would be the man.

...I have to think that everything's on the table right now. This is about the big picture - the big, big picture.

MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Marlies (AHL), Air Canada Centre, Leafs TV, Raptors NBA TV and recently purchased a majority interest in GolTV. The Financial Post reported that MLSE may be launching a TV sports network. (RCI’s principal competitor BCE accepted an offer in June 07 from the majority owner of MLSE but the deal collapsed amidst the credit crisis)

Stephen Brunt also mused about the merging of the Blue Jays with MLSE (or vice versa). “One of these days, if there is a movement to bring the city's major sports franchises under one corporate tent, perhaps the Jays' ownership might change, but it's hard to imagine it happening in other circumstances.

Regardless of who owns the Blue Jays, a new baseball stadium is arguably a necessity. Jeff Blair is not alone in his thinking that a campaign for a new facility is on the horizon. Field of Schemes blogger and Village Voice reporter Neil deMause was interviewed in December by Bill Baer at Baseball Daily Digest. In response to a question concerning the continuation of the practice of new baseball stadiums being constructed with public dollars, Mr. deMause responded, “The Blue Jays arguably started this whole trend with SkyDome way back in 1989, and I expect it won’t be long before they’re agitating for a new one.

The Blue Jays are one of five MLB franchises operating without a “baseball specific” stadium. Of the other four, Minnesota will move to a “baseball only” stadium in 10, Florida is very near to commencing construction on a “baseball only” stadium and Tampa Bay and Oakland are searching for real estate on which to construct “baseball only” stadia. The construction of “retro” style ballparks in most MLB cities over the past 16 to 17 years has been one of the (if not the most) important factors contributing to record industry revenues. The Blue Jays moved in to the multi purpose Skydome (now Rogers Centre) in 89, only 3 years before the “retro” ballpark era began with the opening of Camden Yards. Skydome was constructed at a cost of somewhere between $375 -$600 plus million dollars. (The $600 million figure is most often quoted. Discrepancies arise from calculations in US or Cdn dollars and the inclusion or exclusion of the hotel attached to the stadium. For more details, see here.) Fifteen years later, RCI purchased the stadium for a relatively paltry $25 million. RCI subsequently invested in upgrades to the concourse, luxury suites, playing surface, clubhouses and scoreboard (the investment in stadium improvements coincided with the increased payroll the past three seasons). According to Forbes, “The Jays have been one of baseballs biggest revenue-sharing receivers in recent years because they are permitted to deduct their hefty stadium expenses from revenues in the league's revenue-sharing formula." Nonetheless, Rogers Centre remains an anachronism. In an era when fans and corporations have spent record amounts of dollars filling smaller, baseball only, “retro” stadiums, Rogers Centre is too big (capacity approximately 50,000 for baseball) and too “modern”. Nate Silver examined the trend of smaller ballparks in MLB.

Of the 14 parks that have opened since 2000 or are scheduled to open—I’ll be especially generous and count the Marlins’ proposed facility in this category—13 had reduced seating capacity from that of the team's old stadium, and the lone exception is Cisco Field, which qualifies only because the A’s refuse to sell tickets in the upper deck at McAfee Coliseum. Collectively, these 14 stadiums will take about 10.8 million seats per season out of circulation.

This phenomenon is not anything especially new. The median capacity of a major league baseball stadium peaked in the 1980s at a little over 50,000, and has steadily declined since, as the once-fashionable multipurpose donuts are replaced with more intimate, HOK-designed facilities.

From “Public Dollars, Private Stadiums”;

Baseball teams have learned that larger, dual-purpose stadiums ignore the aesthetic intimacy that is part of the sport’s cultural lore.


Just as important, however, have been the tens of thousands of empty seats at baseball games played in large, dual-purpose stadiums.....which has left the public with the impression that one can always get a ticket to a baseball game. But the newer, smaller stadiums, at least initially, have been able to create a sense of urgent demand.

If and when a “retro” ballpark is constructed in Toronto, it is likely that the benefits derived from it would be diminished in comparison to franchises which profited from the boom earlier on. Again, from “Public Dollars, Private Stadiums”:

Recent data show that the increase in attendance at new stadiums in declining and that the honeymoon effect is lasting for a shorter period. Nine major league baseball teams have established new lows for single-game attendance in their stadiums, and all nine built new stadiums in the 1990s or 2000s. (Subsequent to the publication of the book, Nationals Park furthered the trend this past season)

Along with the “retro” stadium boon, the Blue Jays have not benefited from this era of “competitive balance”. When the Tampa Rays and Milwaukee Brewers made the playoffs this past season the Blue Jays remained one of only four franchises (the others are Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Washington/Montreal) to not qualify for the postseason since the introduction of the wild card in 1995. A return to the playoffs would obviously contribute to increased interest in MLB in Toronto but many Blue Jay fans are cynical about the possibility, given the Blue Jays residence in the AL East along with the Yankees and Red Sox. Whether or not RCI favours a move out of the AL East is debatable given the large crowds that the Yankees and Red Sox attract to Rogers Centre.

The future for MLB in Toronto is unclear. If RCI retains ownership, what level of financial support will they provide to the baseball operations? If RCI decides to sell, will MLSE buy? If not MLSE, is there a local buyer? Is anybody interested in owning and operating the Blue Jays without a new “ballpark”? The recent history of MLB and the affiliated minors in Canada is not promising. The demise of the Expos and the exodus of the affiliated minors from cities including Ottawa, London, St. Catherines, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver does not bode well. Blue Jays fans should not take their team for granted for long.

Pete Toms is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network. He can be contacted at \n \n This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?