What Can be Done About Making a Visit to a Baseball Park Affordable?
Today modern professional sports are not only about competing to find out who is the fastest, the h3est or the most accurate one, but it is also about big money. All modern kinds of sports, including football, soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis and other kinds of sports represent huge businesses with unbelievable profits, which they bring to both athlete and their owners. According to the Associated Press, "After six games of seeing their most expensive seats sitting empty, the New York Yankees have lowered prices significantly, compared to their original pricing structure." (Qtd. Maury Brown (3) even the well-to-do are balking at the pricing at the ballparks. These expensive seats were reduced from $2,500 to $1,250 but only for a limited time because the Yankees estimated lost revenue of approximately six million dollars over the course of the season. The problem lies with the huge payrolls in certain market areas. Big contracts for star players are pricing the general population out of the ballparks. We need to find ways to control costs in the game of baseball.. Salary cap is the best solution to curb these outlandish costs.
"Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd, buy me some peanuts
Levy Pg.2 and crackerjacks. I don't care if I never come back; for its root, roor, root for the home team; if they don't win, it's a shame, for its one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game," is the seventh inning stretch song for fans in ballparks across America. Will our favorite pastime become merely a memory of the good old days? Rising costs of salary contracts for players, food, and unregulated ticket prices at the stadiums make it impossible for a family of four to attend a game for less than three hundred dollars! Baseball games are no longer an event that low to middle-class income people can attend. The challenge throughout Major League Baseball is finding ways to reduce the increased pricing at ballparks. We must find solutions and bring the fans and their children back to the ballpark.
The beginning of the 1990s marked the new era of extremely high wages for baseball players. For example, in 1990, "the highest salary was 3.2 million per year, paid to Robin Yount by the Milwaukee Brewers, while the league minimum was one hundred thousand dollars" (1) . After that, baseball players' salaries kept growing until now, when recently, Joe Mauer signed an eight year contract for a whopping one hundred and eighty-four million dollars. Players can negotiate with teams, and they can accept the highest offer under free agency clauses in their contracts. Free agency has been a catalyst
for astronomical salary increases. This snowballing effect of buying players from other teams has pushed up salaries even more.
There are certain reasons why some athletes receive more money than others. Wage disparity between teams and team members has resulted in the need to consider this fact and to take certain measures to decrease the gap in salaries. This is how the term "salary cap" came into common usage. The necessity for salary cap in baseball is explained by the inequality that it provokes, when some players receive ten to twenty million dollar salaries. It is also necessary to understand the advantages and disadvantages of salary caps. There is an underlying fact that this is a very complex to find out the objective truth. Large market teams will see the disadvantage of salary caps and small market teams will definitely find significant advantages in bringing in salary caps. Indeed, the most important advantage of salary cap is that it will help bring down costs at the ballparks and restore team balance. Salary caps can decrease players' salary in addition to placing restraints of how much money a team can spend. Also, salary caps tend to restrict players' mobility. Another important advantage of salary cap is that it can restore team morale, which could have been damaged by wage disparity. As Depken explains "this could occur if lower paid players feel they must make themselves as
individually productive as possible, perhaps inconsistent with the team's best interests"(1). Indeed, salary cap is very effective at eliminating wage disparities among team members. This will result in the increasing of team's productivity, because the players will do their best when feeling that they are all valued by the owner. Establishing fairness inside the team will lead to better play which will in turn lead to more fantastic games providing fans with greater pleasure. Salary cap also provides for greater parity amongst teams, whereas, a small market team will be able to attract talented players because they can pay the same rates as larger market teams. It does not allow the teams to spend too much money on one player. The only disadvantage to salary cap is the elimination of free market in professional sports. However, disturbance of competitive balance is, by far, more harmful.
Another possible solution to eliminate rising costs in baseball is the luxury tax. Baseball has implemented this tax for teams that spend much more than other teams. The luxury tax is levied for large market teams. Unfortunately, this tax has been of little consequence for teams. The New York Yankees, for example, have just paid the tax. The 2009 World Champions are the best team in baseball with the highest salaried players and astromonical revenues from this mix. They feel no pain from the luxury tax.
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In an effort to level the playing field, owners from higher market areas would share their revenue with smaller market teams. According to Maury Brown from his article in the Biz of Baseball "In 2009, overall attendance at Major League ballparks is down by over six percent from the previous year"(2). This year about forty million dollars will be distributed to lower share market teams from the high end market teams. The revenue- sharing figures have not been forthcoming by the league. The owners feel no need for transparency in accounting to the public. Therefore, revenue-sharing is limited and not the best solution to ease costs.
Who is paying for these contracts and how can we control rising costs? The fans are paying too much and the answer is capping salaries. Capping salaries is a good way to solve this dilemma of increased costs that will continue to pile on to baseball fans, if nothing is done. If salaries are capped, we can effectively reduce costs for baseball fans who can otherwise no longer afford tickets to a game. The necessity of implementation of salary cap in baseball by several more reasons, among which is to restore competitive balance between large market and small market teams and to improve morale inside teams containing players with significant disparity in salaries. It is important not to forget that sports are sports and not only large businesses. For years, sports have been
about fair competition, that's why players and all teams should have equal opportunities, which can be established by means of a salary cap.
(1) Depken, C.A. Wage Disparity and Team Productivity: Evidence from Major League Baseball. 2006. Print.
(2)Brown, Maury. "MLB Can't Have Their Cake and Eat It Too (Revenue-Sharing)." The Biz of Baseball :: Part of the Business of Sports Network. Web. 04 Apr. 2010. <http://www.bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3765:mlb-cant-have-their-cake-and-eat-it-too-revenue-sharing&catid=26:editorials&Itemid=39>.
(3) Brown, Maury. "Yankees Cut Prices on Most Expensive Seats." The Biz of Baseball :: Part of the Business of Sports Network. Web. 04 Apr. 2010. <http://www.bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3208:yankees-cut-prices-on-most-expensive-seats&catid=56:ticket-watch&Itemid=136>.
(4) "MLB Needs A Salary Cap, According To Owners And Fans | MLB | New York Yankees | Boston Red Sox." FanIQ | Sports Videos, Blogs, News, Rumors, Picks, Predictions, Forums and Trivia. Web. 04 Apr. 2010. <http://www.faniq.com/blog/MLB-Needs-A-Salary-Cap-According-To-Owners-And-Fans-Blog-17901>.
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