March 24, 2006
According to a report issued by D.C. official Natwar Gandhi, cited in the Washington Post, the Washington Nationals' annual revenues are expected to climb from $125 million to $203 million in the first year of the new baseball stadium, based on sales of 3.17 million tickets. It would then probably edge down in subsequent years as the excitement and novelty wear off. That would put the Nats in the same elite class as the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, and Dodgers. (And to think that two years ago, people like Peter Angelos were still arguing that Washington couldn't support a major league team!) The article doesn't talk about profitability, which is a sensitive subject, but you can bet it will be high. I assume that this report is timed to persuade the soon-to-be-named new owners of the Nationals -- probably the Lerner family, or else Fred Malek and Jeffrey Zients -- to make a reasonable offer of contributing extra money to make sure that the new ballpark has all the necessary finishing touches.
Coincidentally, I just received in the mail an inscribed copy of Field of Schemes, the book by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. See their Web site, where you can (and should) buy your own copy. So far, it's been a great read, with lots of fascinating, juicy details about how public officials and team owners mustered the money to build the sports palaces of the last couple decades. It makes one cringe to read about such dirty little secrets as the guaranteed ticket buy-back clause that San Diego agreed to as part of the lease terms when Jack Murphy Stadium was renovated and renamed a decade ago. It's like something you would expect from Pete Rose.
Congratulations to Japan! The final game between Cuba and Japan was a fitting, dramatic climax to a tournament that got off to a slow start, and finally started drawing some broad attention in the later rounds. I was following that game on the GameDay feature (the WBC Web site was obviously part of the MLB operation), and was riveted by the late-inning drama. The Cubans (all amateurs, of course) made a come-back effort, but the Japanese scored some insurance runs in the top of the ninth, going on to win, 10-6.
The WBC was perhaps a little too unusual to fully appreciate at first. The next time around, baseball fans in the U.S. and abroad will know what to expect from the format. As Mike Bauman notes at MLB.com, this was a wake-up call for Americans, but we really don't need to feel too glum. Other countries simply have a stronger zeal to compete, and we should feel proud at inspiring such athletic endeavor and fan enthusiasm. (Did you see those images of Japanese fans going wild?) Just wait till 2009!
Luis Ayala hurt his arm while pitching for Mexico in the WBC, helping to defeat the U.S.A. 2-1. Well, that oughta teach him! Unfortunately, losing the reliable reliever will be a big blow to the Washington Nationals, whose pitching staff is already dangerously thin.
In an obvious attempt to encourage Missouri voters to pass the stadium renovation referendum next month, Bud Selig announced that Kansas City will host the All Star game for a second time, some time between 2010 and 2014, by which time the planned renovations should be completed. See MLB.com. (hat tip to Mike Zurawski)