World Series champion Dodgers lost nearly $125M this season
The Los Angeles Dodgers just won the World Series — but they also just lost a bunch of dough.
The star-studded Major League Baseball franchise — which pulled off a dramatic, 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the championship series on Tuesday night — has nonetheless been slammed with about $125 million in losses this season, The Post has learned.
That’s even worse than the league average in a year that was devastated by the coronavirus. In an interview this week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred revealed that the league’s 30 teams are expected this season to lose collectively between $2.8 billion and $3 billion, an average of $97 million per team.
The biggest losers are big-market teams including the Yankees and Mets — and despite their win, the Dodgers will be no exception, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s financials. In a Tuesday interview with CNBC, Dodgers chief executive Stan Kasten admitted that the team’s revenue plunged by more than $100 million this season.
“As much as any team, or more, because we have so many fans and we take in so much revenue in an ordinary year,” Kasten said. “Most of that we didn’t receive this year.”
Kasten didn’t elaborate, and a Dodgers spokesman declined to comment. A source close to the team, however, said the losses come after the Dodgers turned the corner last year, making about $60 million in profits for the 2019 season. The source added that if MLB had canceled the 2020 season, the Dodgers would have lost a lot less.
Indeed, the losses pose a dilemma for the big-market owners since playing games means losing money, says Greg Bouris, who used to represent the Major League Players Association and runs the sports-management program at Adelphi University.
“You’d be a bad business owner if you didn’t ask yourself if playing games was worth it,” Bouris told The Post. “Why would you want to compound these losses next year? I hope fans enjoyed the World Series, because I don’t know when we will see baseball again.”
In 2019, the Dodgers collected $185 million in gate receipts — well above the average although short of the Yankees’ $287 million, according to Forbes. The Dodgers average ticket price was $43 compared with the Yankees price of $65, Forbes said. In all, attendance accounts for about 40 percent of the Dodgers’ total take.
That’s in line with the average MLB team, which takes in another 40 percent from media rights (national and local), and the rest from sponsorship and suite deals, a sports banker said.
Couple the loss of ticket revenue with the costs of the Dodgers’ staggering payroll, which in 2020 totaled $108 million, the second-highest in baseball. Despite a 2020 season that was chopped to 60 games from 162 — and despite the fact that the games were played in empty stadiums —the Dodgers, like all teams, were forced to pay players on a game-by-game basis.
Those include stars such left-handed starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who earned $16 million in the shortened season, and outfielder Mookie Betts, who collected a $10 million salary.
The Tampa Bay Rays, by contrast, only drew 1.2 million fans in 2019 and had the 27th-highest payroll at $28 million. Accordingly, it’s clear that they lost far less money than the Dodgers.
As they weigh the prospects for 2021, the big-market teams are likely to make noise in the coming months about the outsize hits their bottom lines have taken, sources said.
Until this year, all teams gave 48 percent of their local revenue to MLB, which shared it equally with all teams so smaller market clubs like the Rays were at less of a disadvantage against bigger market teams like the Dodgers when signing players.
MLB’s collective-bargaining agreement ends after next season, and big-market teams are expected to argue that they should share less of their revenue with MLB after this year’s disaster, sources said.
In the case of the Dodgers, losses this year have been worsened by interest payments on $400 million in debt that the team is carrying from a leveraged buyout in 2012, in which Guggenheim Partners bought 90 percent of the team in a partnership that included its chief executive Mark Walter, investor Todd Boehly and NBA legend Magic Johnson.
After taking losses to sign big player contracts and build what they hoped would be a championship club, the Guggenheim partnership started cutting payroll to a more manageable level by trading high-dollar players like Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Kazmir and made the Dodgers profitable.
Last year, the Dodgers owners sold small minority interests in deals that valued the team at $3.2 billion.
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