Game One of the World Series is tonight, and without knowing who will be crowned champion, here’s some of the things we can take away from the 2011 season. Despite ongoing economic turbulence, league-wide attendance increased 0.8% over last season to 73.4 million, the most since 2008. Thanks to sponsorship renewals from Bayer, Chevrolet and others, MLB gross revenues are at an all-time high of $7.5 billion+.
However, interest in this World Series could be slim compared to recent years. This is just the third time since 1995 that neither World Series team has a top ten payroll. Also hurting matters, the top seven most popular MLB teams, according to Harris Poll data, were eliminated before the League Championship Series or didn’t make the playoffs. Additionally, TV ratings for both MLB League Championship Series were down double-digits compared to last year. Hurt by rain delays, postponements and day games, Fox’ coverage of the ALCS was down 20% from the 2010 NLCS. TBS’ NLCS telecasts fell 43% from the network’s ALCS coverage last year.
But what does the World Series mean to a team?
In the cases of the Rangers and Cardinals, winning (or even losing) the World Series could mean $30-50 million over the next five years in incremental ticket, merchandise and sponsorship sales. Both teams have room for improvement on ticket sales. The Rangers played to a stadium at 74% of capacity, while the Cardinals played to 89% capacity.
If the Cardinals play through the end of the World Series, St. Louis projects economic impact from the playoffs to exceed $56 million. Each game in the division and league championship series was worth $5.2 million. World Series games likely are worth $1-2 million more.
Here's a financial breakdown of the World Series:
St. Louis Cardinals
Payroll: $105.4 million
Value: $518 million
Value % increase after last World Series appearance: 7% (2006 World Series champs)*Below MLB average growth of 14%, but Cardinals saw big increase the prior year when the opened new Busch Stadium
Operating income: $19.8 million
Payroll: $92.3 million
Value: $561 million
Value % increase after last World Series appearance: 24% (2010 World Series runner-up)*Above league average of 7%, but inflated by bankruptcy auction that took place mid-season
Operating income: $22.6 million
St. Louis Cardinals: $1.17 million
Texas Rangers: $961,000
St. Louis Cardinals: $5.76 million
Texas Rangers: $5.84 million
St. Louis Cardinals: $222,000
Texas Rangers: $235,000
**All values, operating incomes according to Forbes