2020 has been a pretty unusual year for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly all facets of our lives. Baseball was no exception. The MLB season was postponed for many months and was followed by an at times ugly negotiation on how to safely resume and properly compensate the players. The biggest factor in making these negotiations so tense was the lack of revenue the teams were estimating due to the inability to host fans during the games. Back in May Major League Baseball was estimated to lose around $4 billion, with the Cardinals estimated to lose around $136 million.
Some of the projections are out based on Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index. Using 2019’s attendance numbers across a full season of games, TMR was able to use its Fan Cost Index, which calculates the fan’s average cost to attend a game across all sports, and estimate the revenues teams missed out on by fans not coming to the ballpark. The Cardinals reported 3.48 million fans in attendance in 2019. Per Kaleel Weatherly and Diana Barr of St. Louis Business Journal the Cardinals lost over $254.4 million while the league as a whole lost more than $5 billion. The Cardinals ranked 6th in losses behind the New York Yankees at $437.9 million, Los Angeles Dodgers at $358.4 million, Chicago Cubs at $354.2 million, Boston Red Sox at $337.7 million, and Houston Astros at $276.9 million.
I want to make the distinction these are not business losses. This is revenue that instead of being paid to the team maybe stayed in fans’ pockets or went towards food or fuel. With TV deals and promotions, it seems unlikely to me, a person who knows almost nothing, that baseball organizations went in the red. They just did not earn as much as they normally do, which does mean less to invest in the team in the near future, but otherwise has little impact on... well anything.
Hat tip to brackenthebox for helping me access the original article from St. Louis Business Journal.