Yankees reach deal to move High-A affiliate from Tampa to Ocala

Via Susan Latham Carr: The Yankees have reached an agreement to relocate their High-A Florida State League affiliate out of Tampa and up the road a hundred miles or so to Ocala. We first heard the team was in talks with the city of Ocala last December, after plans with Orlando fell through. “I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s a good quality-of-life-type venue,” said Ocala mayor Kent Guinn.

The agreement is in place but the deal is not yet final. Staff will present the agreement to the Ocala City Council tomorrow, where they will also discuss plans for a new $45 million facility. The new building will be used for more than just baseball and will be paid for by a half-cent sales tax increase over the next ten years. The tax hike and several other things must be voted on before the deal is finalized. Preliminary polls show the public is in favor of the deal. If everything goes smoothly, the relocation could be complete in time for Opening Day 2016.

Josh Leventhal says the relocation of the High-A squad will not change anything regarding Spring Training. The Yankees still have 12 years remaining on a 30-year contract that locks them into Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for Spring Training. The Yankees are looking to move their High-A affiliate out of Tampa to improve the market. They currently have to compete with the Rays, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, and various collegiate sports. High-A Tampa averaged 1,827 fans per game this past season, fourth highest in the historically attendance-starved FSL.

Bloomberg: Yankees valued at nearly $3.3 billion

Via Peter Schwartz: The Yankees are currently valued at an estimated $3.28 billion, the highest of any franchise. The Dodgers are a (very) distant second at $2.1 billion. “The Yankees are as successful as you can possibly be,” said Lee Berke, a sports media consultant. “It’s the culmination of a perfect storm coming together: the nation’s number one market, professional sports’ most successful team and tremendously savvy and aggressive ownership.”

That $3.28 billion is broken down into the team itself ($2.09 billion), stakes in the YES Network ($932M) and MLB Advanced Media ($110M, same for every team), and related businesses ($148M) like Legends Hospitality. The team’s net loss in revenue sharing was $97M last year. The full breakdown, including revenue sources and whatnot, is available in this fancy infographic. The value of the Yankees has nothing but go up in recent years, from $1.6 billion in April 2010 to $1.7 billion in March 2011 to $1.8 billion in March 2012 to $2.3 billion in March 2013. What, you didn’t think the Yankees were losing money, did you?

Cano lands first endorsement deal since signing with Jay-Z

Via Darren Rovell: Robinson Cano has signed a multi-year deal with Pepsi to be the face of their national MLB marketing campaign. Pepsi been the league’s official soft drink sponsor for nearly two decades now. Cano will be a featured in an advertisement at some point during tonight’s All-Star Game.

“He represents the kind of athlete who is in the moment, has a great personality and connects with consumers,” said Heidi Sandreuter, Pepsi’s senior director of sports marketing. The deal is Cano’s first endorsement contract since hooking on with CAA Sports and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation back in April. In a statement released at that time, Robbie basically said he was looking for better off-the-field opportunities. Landing multiple years with Pepsi is a great first step, I’d say.

Forbes: Yankees now worth $2.3 billion

Forbes released its annual MLB valuations yesterday, and for the umpteenth consecutive year (actually 16th), the Yankees rank as the sport’s most valuable franchise. Their $2.3 billion valuation is a) higher than any other club in U.S. sports, b) $700M higher than the second most valuable club (Dodgers), and c) more than double the fourth most valuable club (Cubs). It’s also up considerably from 2012 ($1.85B), especially with regards to 2011 ($1.6B) and 2010 ($1.5B). You can thank the YES Network and the new Yankee Stadium for that.

“The Yankees sold some of their interest in the YES Network as part of Fox’s purchase of 49% of the regional sport network in late 2012 and as part of the deal the team’s rights fee from YES will increase from $85 million this season to $350 million in 2042,” wrote the publication, meaning the team’s value is going nowhere but up. Forbes estimates the Yankees’ revenue at $471M and their operating income at just $1.4M, but Yankee Global Enterprises is far more profitable due to its other holdings. The team technically operated at a loss for about a decade before the new Stadium opened.

The Athletics, up 46% from 2012, saw their value increase more than any other club in the last year. At $450M, the Rays are the least valuable franchise in the sport while the Cubs ($32.1M) and Angels ($-12.9M) had the largest and smallest operating incomes, respectively. Revenue sharing throws a big wrench into those calculations, however. Baseball will be getting a big financial boost in 2014 when its new agreements with FOX and TBS kick in, doubling the money each team receives from national television broadcast.

Report: Yankees to drop StubHub in favor of TicketMaster

Via Steven Marcus: The Yankees will opt-out of MLB’s secondary ticket market agreement with StubHub and instead sign a new deal with TicketMaster. “Less fees, more fan-friendly,” said a source to Marcus about the arrangement, which is only partially true. TicketMaster will be more fan-friendly to season ticket owners because they’ll be able to get face value for their tickets through TicketExchange.

The Yankees haven’t announced anything yet, but a StubHub spokesperson confirmed they have opted out of the deal along with the Angels and Cubs. MLB’s new five-year agreement with StubHub was announced today. Team executives have openly complained about StubHub recently, claiming it artificially deflated the value of tickets and is unfair to season ticket holders. Team president Randy Levine even blamed the empty Stadium in the postseason on StubHub, which was pretty silly. I haven’t seen any firm details on the Ticketmaster deal yet so I don’t know how that will impact the secondary market, but info will trickle out eventually.

More on News Corp. and the YES Network

Early last week, an agreement was reached allowing News Corp. to purchase 49% — potentially as much as 80% down the road — of the YES Network from investors like Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the calendar year. Here’s some more on the transaction, courtesy of Richard Sandomir

  • The Yankees will retain control of all Yankees-related content on the network. The announcers will continue to be biased — “We tell our people if you want to be bipartisan and fair, don’t work for YES,” said team president Randy Levine to Sandomir — and long-running features like Yankeeography and Yankees Classics aren’t going anywhere.
  • FOX, which is owned by News Corp., will bring some programming to the network however. It doesn’t sound like a SportsCenter-esque, nightly sports news show is in the cards though.
  • The Yankees will receive $420M from News Corp. to keep the team on YES through 2042. They’re getting half of that now and the other half in three years. Just think, they’re trimming payroll in less than 16 months.
  • Just as we heard the other day, Sandomir says the Steinbrenners are unlikely to sell the team in the wake of the agreement. The team continues to make a fortune and, perhaps more importantly, the family would get slapped with a massive tax bill should they sell.

The Latest on YES & News Corp.

The Yankees officially announced an agreement that allows News Corp. to acquire a 49% stake (which could reportedly grow to 80%) in the YES Network from investors like Goldman Sachs, NJ Holdings, and Providence Equity yesterday. The deal is still pending MLB approval and is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. The sale price indicates that the network is worth approximately $3 billion right now, meaning it’s likely more valuable than the team itself. Here’s more on the transaction courtesy of Darren Rovell, Andy Fixmer, and Scott Soshnick

  • The Yankees will sell 9% of their stake in YES, lowering their share to 25% and earning the club a whopping $270M. The team might also receive a $400-500M payment separate from the rights agreement, so think of it like a signing bonus.
  • As part of the transaction, the Yankees have extended their agreement with YES to ensure the network will broadcast games through 2042. YES currently pays the team $85M annually for broadcast rights, but escalators will push that to $350M annually (!) by the end of the new agreement.
  • Goldman, NJ Holdings, and Providence will retain some stake in YES but will have the option to sell the remainder to the Yankees and News Corp. in four years for a portion of the predetermined market value of $3.8 billion. That’s what everyone expects the network to be worth in 2016.
  • Although there has been speculation (including by me) this deal with News Corp. is an indication the Steinbrenner family will look to sell the team down the line, the reporting trio all say this move puts them in better position to hold on to the club long-term.
  • Brian Heyman has official statements from Hal Steinbrenner and others, so check that out if you’re interested.