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Cards' bonus bucks help Birds feather the nest

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  • Cards' bonus bucks help Birds feather the nest

    Cards Insider: Bonus bucks help Birds feather nest
    By Joe Strauss
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/14/2005


    CHICAGO - His stadium on schedule for completion and his team on schedule for its fifth postseason appearance in six seasons, Cardinals general partner Bill DeWitt Jr. now admits what many have alleged for several years. Despite recent angst over finances, given a new stadium the Cardinals perceive themselves as a large-market team within a midlevel demographic.

    The confirmation Aug. 4 that the club was divorcing longtime rights-holder KMOX for partial ownership of KTRS completed a two-year series of renegotiations with radio and television partners and concessionaires.

    The new Busch Stadium, less oppulent than its original design, also will bring a financial windfall because of increased ticket prices and a greater number of more costly luxury suites.

    "I think we feel good about it. We should certainly be able to compete. I don't see teams who have payrolls less than ours jumping past us," said DeWitt, whose club opened the season with the game's sixth-highest payroll. "The large markets - Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago - if they have good seasons there is no way our revenues are going to get to where those teams get. They have an inherent advantage."

    Yet within the small-market National League Central the Cardinals represent a relatively oppressive force.

    Quick to assert they can't "paper over" mistakes like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, the Cardinals will build upon their inherent advantage over the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. Within the division, only the Chicago Cubs can rival the Redbirds' widened revenue stream.

    DeWitt describes the franchise as currently "overachieving" financially. A 3.1 million attendance was forecast for this season's budget but the attention surrounding Busch Stadium's imminent demise, coupled with the predictable enthusiasm for a team following up a 105-win season, virtually assures 3.45 million will come through the gates.

    The Cardinals entered the season with a payroll slightly above $87 million. That figure will swell well beyond $90 million because of appearance incentives and numerous additions to the 40-man roster. Including benefits, the team's payroll commitment will exceed $100 million.

    By the club's accounting, what DeWitt calls "an unusual situation" will prevent the club from realizing a windfall this season. The Cardinals exercised six of the first 78 picks in this year's first-year player draft and are also constructing an academy in the Dominican Republic. The Cardinals spent about $6 million in signing bonuses, compared to $3 million in a typical year. Investment in the Dominican facility and other international development is around $1.75 million.

    "We're having a good year financially relative to how we've done in the past," DeWitt said. "We made a little bit of money last year because of the postseason."

    Stadium construction and bond financing also allow the club to amortize the park for 10 years, dramatically reducing what the club owes Major League Baseball in revenue sharing. (The Yankees will use the same approach.)

    DeWitt acknowledges that revenue should rise significantly next year. Stadium advertising and rights deals negotiated the past 18 months with cable television, concession and radio entities represent significant increases.

    "This year we're getting the benefit of the new stadium without being in the new stadium," said DeWitt, referring to the deals cut last season. DeWitt also expressed confidence that the stadium will be completed on time and on budget, "but it's a big project."

    Reaction to the Cardinals' defection from KMOX to their own station has been relatively muted compared to the firestorm that preceded this month's announcement, he says.

    "Like a lot of things that happen, there was so much discussion before the event that everybody expressed their viewpoint before the fact," DeWitt said. "When it happened, what happened was about what we expected." DeWitt called the response from stations throughout the Midwest about joining the team's new radio network "a very positive thing."

    The bottom line remains very much in focus. Little input was given players or media regarding stadium design. Indeed, baseball overruled an initial plan to relegate the exposed, downsized press box down the right-field line while the dimensions of a proposed weight room for players have been halved. Fan outrage over a station switch became little more than background noise.

    DeWitt referred to the team's recent purchase of KTRS as "strategic. ... It's like buying (Class AA affiliate) Springfield instead of making a (player development) deal with Springfield. You get the benefit of Double-A ownership. The radio station is paying a very competitive rate. The fact the Cardinals are on the station - despite a very high rights payment - there is substantial value to that.

    "If we can realize the benefit we expect, it's another source that strengthens the franchise. It enables us to be in the top echelon. The Red Sox have their TV network (NESN), the Yankees have their TV network (YES), the Braves have their network (TBS), the Cubs are affiliated with WGN. This certainly isn't in the same league as those arrangements, but it's significant. Anything that enhances the franchise from a profitability standpoint helps us compete at a higher level."

    DeWitt insists the Cardinals, situated in one of the game's six smallest markets, currently have no plans to invest in a TV network. "We really haven't looked at that," he said. "Our TV market isn't huge relative to where some of the other markets are. But I wouldn't rule anything out."

    A year ago DeWitt watched a team with what he considered "a special opportunity" reach its first World Series in 17 years before being dusted by the Boston Red Sox. He sees much the same for this club despite its raft of injuries among position players.

    DeWitt is among those holding his breath about a rotation that has shown recent signs of wear but is more confident that a fit Matt Morris, a durable Chris Carpenter and a more consistent Mark Mulder would represent a significant upgrade.

    "Unfortunately, Carpenter got hurt and Matt wasn't completely healthy all year, and particularly down the stretch," DeWitt said.

    "Our starting pitching was not at top form. But we still made it to the World Series. Put Chris Carpenter as the No. 1 starter and follow it with Mulder and a healthy Morris, I'm sure it would have been a different World Series. There's nothing like solid starting pitching when you get into the postseason. We're not assuming we're there yet. We still have to gut it out."

    The arbitration-eligible Jason Marquis has won once since June 15. Mulder's outings have literally been night and day. Morris, perhaps the league's most productive pitcher not invited to the All-Star Game, has slowed down since the break. Both factored in the recent decision to give the rotation an extra day's rest on consecutive turns.

    "I think the teams are similar but they certainly have differences," DeWitt said, referring to injuries that have sidelined Yadier Molina, Scott Rolen, Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker for extended periods.

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

  • #2
    I like what he's saying.


    Official lounge sponsor of new Busch Stadium!

    Comment


    • #3
      "If we can realize the benefit we expect, it's another source that strengthens the franchise. It enables us to be in the top echelon. The Red Sox have their TV network (NESN), the Yankees have their TV network (YES), the Braves have their network (TBS), the Cubs are affiliated with WGN. This certainly isn't in the same league as those arrangements, but it's significant. Anything that enhances the franchise from a profitability standpoint helps us compete at a higher level."
      When do the Cardinals decide that they need their own TV network? Surely, they can make more that way than collecting from KPLR, FSN.

      I have to pay extra anyway for FSN thru DirecTV.

      How many will sign up? This needs to be a poll.

      Comment


      • #4
        If it means getting rid of Dan and Al, I'm all for it.
        RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
        You'll never be forgotten.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would definitely sign up and I think its a great idea.
          You're being fucking dramatic. You own a TV and an air mattress. That's not exactly what I'd call "a lot to lose."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JWB@Aug 14 2005, 09:58 AM
            If it means getting rid of Dan and Al, I'm all for it.

            Actually, I think Dan could be OK if paired with a different analyst, like Andy Van Slyke, or Andy Benes, but I doubt those two would want to do any games on the road.

            Comment


            • #7
              They already did..........it was called the Cardinals Cable Television Network. Was on Cencom in the late eighties. Had to endure Ken Wilson and Hrabosky. That sucked.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jim Carr@Aug 14 2005, 10:25 AM
                They already did..........it was called the Cardinals Cable Television Network. Was on Cencom in the late eighties. Had to endure Ken Wilson and Hrabosky. That sucked.

                Isn't it more mainstream now? How much was it then? I think Cardinal fans will pay if it means keeping up with the Joneses.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jack Daniels+Aug 14 2005, 11:30 AM-->
                  QUOTE(Jack Daniels @ Aug 14 2005, 11:30 AM)

                • #10
                  Originally posted by Jack Daniels+Aug 14 2005, 11:07 AM-->
                  QUOTE(Jack Daniels @ Aug 14 2005, 11:07 AM)

                • #11
                  Originally posted by Turd Ferguson+Aug 14 2005, 01:36 PM-->
                  QUOTE(Turd Ferguson @ Aug 14 2005, 01:36 PM)
                  Originally posted by Jack [email protected] 14 2005, 11:07 AM

                • #12
                  Originally posted by *007*@Aug 14 2005, 12:27 AM
                  Cards Insider: Bonus bucks help Birds feather nest
                  The Cardinals exercised six of the first 78 picks in this year's first-year player draft and are also constructing an academy in the Dominican Republic.
                  Anyone worried that they're investing too much in Caribbean players? JJ.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by jack jones+Aug 14 2005, 02:24 PM-->
                    QUOTE(jack jones @ Aug 14 2005, 02:24 PM)

                  • #14
                    Originally posted by Jack Daniels+Aug 14 2005, 03:34 PM-->
                    QUOTE(Jack Daniels @ Aug 14 2005, 03:34 PM)
                    Originally posted by jack [email protected] 14 2005, 02:24 PM

                  • #15
                    I don't care where a player comes from if he can help win a WS for the Cardinals, gas up DeWitt's plane.

                    Taguchi has turned out OK, 3 years later. Walt needs to take a trip to the far east.

                    Comment

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