In an effort to get players to accept a form of revenue-sharing for the 2020 season, Major League Baseball is saying clubs will lose $640,000 per game
Major League Baseball stands to suffer big financial losses if a shortened season is played without fans, the league told players in a memo obtained on Saturday by the Associated Press.
The league’s 12-page presentation, entitled “Economics of Playing Without Fans in Attendance,” to the Players Association states clubs will lose an average of $640,000 per game unless the players agree to a revenue-sharing deal. The New York Yankees would suffer the biggest economic hit at $312 million, while the Detroit Tigers would lose $84 million.
Commissioner Rob Manfred and team owners have proposed a 50-50 split in league revenue with the players instead of paying prorated salaries over the course of a shortened season played without fans. Of the $10.7 billion MLB earned in 2019, 39 percent came from ticket sales, money they can’t count on in 2020. Clubs paid $4.7 billion in player salaries last season.
On March 26, MLB and the Players Association agreed to a deal that would pay players a prorated salary depending on how many games were played in 2020. If the season was canceled, players would split $170 million. But owners now say that deal was contingent on playing with fans in attendance, a situation that seems unlikely at least for the start of the season.
While revenue-sharing is a common aspect of other leagues, the MLB Players Association has traditionally been against it. MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said last week the league’s proposal amounted to a salary cap and is unacceptable to the players. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell was even more strongly against it, insisting that if he and his fellow players put their health on the line in order to play, they should be paid the amount of their contracts.
“Naw, I’m not splitting no revenue. I want all mine,” Snell said during a Twitch stream on Wednesday. “Bro, y’all gotta understand, too, cause y’all going to be like, ‘Blake, play for the love of the game, man. What’s wrong with you, bro? Money should not be a thing.’ Bro, I’m risking my life. What do you mean it should not be a thing? It 100 percent should be a thing. If I’m going to play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid.”
The league has formulated a plan for the 2020 season where each team would play 82 games, in their home ballpark when allowed, starting in early July. New health and safety measures, outlined in a 67-page document the league sent to the players on Friday, would be put in place to protect players from COVID-19, including regular testing and increased social distancing among players and club officials.
But, while safety guidelines are being finalized, it appears as if money will be the biggest obstacle toward both sides reaching an agreement. The gap is wide and positions entrenched. Time is running out to salvage some sort of season. If the bridge isn’t crossed soon, baseball will have to sit out 2020.