Hey, did you know the economy is struggling? No, seriously, it’s in pretty bad shape.
But how is the worst fiscal crisis since FDR affecting Major League Baseball? At the dawn of the season’s second half, we turn to Eric Bolling, from Fox Business Network for some answers. He’s our first return contestant in the Crackle Wonders interview series. So, Perhaps he should win something, but that’s a discussion for another day.
SCP: Goldman Sachs just had an incredibly profitable quarter. The firm is heavily involved with the Yankees. Do you think fans will see any evidence at the ballpark? Perhaps more corporate customers in the expensive seats, or even more spending on improving the fan experience?
EB: I spent Wednesday at the Stadium with Yankee front office brass. First of all, the new Yankee Stadium is a beauty. A total entertainment experience. From restaurants, bars, pubs and souvenir stands, the place is a palace. Interestingly, once you enter the field, you wouldnâ€™t know that you were at the old stadium or the new one (with the exception of the truly jaw dropping â€œDiamond Visionâ€-the 50â€™ by 110â€™ super-jumbo video screen in center field).Â From a purely aesthetic point of viewâ€¦ the field and seating seemed to be remarkably similar to the old stadium. I noted UTZ sign displayed prominently in the right field bleachers exactly where it sat before. To answer the question, there was no evidence of Goldman Sachs anywhere. Now, whether or not Goldman Sachâ€™s CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his band of merry bankers are chilling in the field boxes, youâ€™ll have to watch for shiny gold watches reflecting the sun into the cameras during day games.
SCP: The Tribune Company finally made a deal to sell the Cubs. How much do you think they lost by selling the franchise now, as opposed to one year ago?
EB: The Tribune Company actually made the right move selling the Cubbies now rather than last year.Â Forbes had the value of the Cub franchise at around $700 million going into this season. So, selling the Cubs for a reported $900 million would be a fantastic price.
BTW,Â the $900 million valuation puts the Cubs third in team valuations behind the Yankees at $1.5 billion and Mets at $900 million.
SCP: Can you discuss the relative merits and problems of building new stadiums in troubled economic time, as is the case in both Florida and Minnesota?
EB: As long as a team doesnâ€™t ask local governments to help pay for a new stadium, I encourage teams to build new and fresh stadiums. I recall sitting in a frozen ball watching Bear games at the old Soldier Field. I was 10 years old and miserable. It was so cold, the toilets froze! There is no need to take the family out to a game if the experience isnâ€™t family friendly. The newly built stadiums are way more family friendly and thatâ€™s good for everyone!
SCP: What has been the biggest on-field affect of the recession?
EB: While no business is immune to the recession, sports seem to be as recession resistant as anything can be.Â I think teams will struggle with revenue shortfalls for this year but hopefully things turn around any begin to move up next year. If they asked me, I would suggest freezing player salaries before trying to make up the difference with ticket or concession price increases. Just my $0.02 though!
By the way, if you enjoyed the previous discussion, but wish there was more, and wish there were moving pictures and other people and nifty graphics across the bottom of the screen while you’re looking at it, I have some great news.Â On Friday at 5pm, Eric and his co-hosts will be doing their FBN show, Happy Hour, live from the Hard Rock at Yankee Stadium.Â Special guests will include New York Yankees President Randy Levine and Patriarch Partners CEO and Bronx native Lynn Tilton, among others.