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Friday, March 29
Forbes disputes Selig's claim that baseball lost money

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The 30 major league baseball teams had an operating profit of $75 million last season according to a study by Forbes Magazine, about $300 million more than commissioner Bud Selig testified to Congress in December.

Forbes' estimated values
Baseball teams' estimated value and operating profits after revenue sharing for 2001 (or losses in parentheses), according to Forbes Magazine, and operating profits (or losses in parentheses) -- abbreviated OP(OL) -- after revenue sharing in 2001 as complied by the commissioner's office. All figures in million.
Teams Value Forbesí OP(OL) MLB OP(OL)
New York Yankees $730M $18.7M $14.3M
New York Mets $482 $14.3 ($7.4)
L.A. Dodgers $435 ($29.6) ($54.5)
Boston Red Sox $426 ($11.4) ($13.7)
Atlanta Braves $424 $9.5 ($25.0)
Seattle Mariners $373 $14.1 $15.5
Cleveland Indians $360 (3.6) (11.4)
Texas Rangers $356 ($6.5) ($24.4)
San Francisco Giants $355 $16.8 $12.7
Colorado Rockies $347 $6.7 ($9.4)
Houston Astros $337 $4.1 ($6.4)
Baltimore Orioles $319 $3.2 ($5.3)
Chicago Cubs $287 $7.9 ($1.8)
Arizona Diamondbacks $280 ($3.9) ($36.6)
St. Louis Cardinals $271 ($5.1) ($6.4)
Detroit Tigers $262 $12.3 $5.7
Pittsburgh Pirates $242 $9.5 ($1.2)
Milwaukee Brewers $238 $18.8 $16.1
Philadelphia Phillies $231 $2.6 ($9.1)
Chicago White Sox $223 ($3.8) ($9.9)
San Diego Padres $207 $5.7 ($7.5)
Cincinnati Reds $204 $4.3 $2.3
Anaheim Angels $195 $5.7 $0.0
Toronto Blue Jays $182 ($20.6) ($43.1)
Oakland Athletics $157 $6.8 $3.4
Kansas City Royals $152 $2.2 ($.1)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays $142 ($6.1) ($10.5)
Florida Marlins $137 $1.4 ($9.2)
Minnesota Twins $127 $3.6 $.5
Montreal Expos $108 ($3.4) ($10.0)
TOTAL $286 (avg) $75.0 ($232.2)
Source: Forbes Magazine and AP

Forbes reported in its April 15 issue that 20 of the 30 teams were profitable last season -- more than double what Selig said.

"A few teams are struggling, but baseball as an industry is in strong financial shape," Forbes senior editor Mike Ozanian said.

In testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in December, the commissioner said the industry had $232 million in operating losses last year and only nine teams made money.

"It is dishonest," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said of the Forbes report. "They came to us asking us to show them our books which we did. Rob Manfred (executive vice president of labor relations) went through all the clubs' finances with them. They showed him what they had and he showed them where they were wrong and they completely ignored the whole session."

Forbes said that baseball had $3.57 billion in revenues last season -- almost identical to the $3.55 billion reported by baseball.

The big difference came in expenses, with baseball reporting $3.78 billion to Forbes' $3.495 billion. Ozanian, who said he got some of his information directly from teams, said baseball did not release details of teams' specific expenses.

"They didn't offer us their books, what they offered us was the same exact numbers that they used to give before Congress," he said. "As Congress said, there wasn't anywhere near sufficient breakdowns to see where the numbers came from. I would be willing to sit down and show them where everything we had came from if they would do the same."

According to the study, the Selig family's Milwaukee Brewers had an operating profit of $18.8 million after revenue sharing last season, the most in baseball.

The New York Yankees were the second-most profitable team at $18.7 million, followed by San Francisco ($16.8 million), the New York Mets ($14.3 million) and Seattle ($14.1 million.)

Los Angeles had the highest operating loss at $29.6 million, followed by Toronto ($20.6 million), Boston ($11.4 million), Texas ($6.5 million) and Tampa Bay ($6.1 million.)

Forbes also valued each of the franchises, estimating the Yankees' worth at $730 million -- more than the Chicago Cubs ($287 million), World Series champion Arizona ($280 million) and Oakland ($157 million) combined.

The Yankees' value rose 15 percent this year following the launch of YES, the regional cable network that is 60 percent-owned by YankeeNets, the baseball team's parent.

The Mets ($482 million) were second, followed by the Dodgers ($435 million), Red Sox ($426 million) and Atlanta ($424 million.)

"Our values represent what we think the team is worth to the current owner given the current stadium and TV situation," Ozanian said.

The two least valuable teams were Montreal ($108 million) and Minnesota ($127 million) -- both targets of baseball's contraction plan this offseason.

The value of the Twins rose 29 percent from a year ago and the Expos are worth 17 percent more.

"As far as the value of teams, it is complete speculation," Levin said. "I don't know what they're basing it on. Their numbers are never correct and aren't correct this year."

Three teams were sold this past year for different amounts than Forbes' value.

The Red Sox, Fenway Park and 80 percent of NESN -- the team's regional cable network -- were sold last month for $660 million.

Forbes attributes much of the difference in sale price to the inclusion of NESN, which has been valued at $150 million to $200 million.

The Florida Marlins were sold to former Montreal owner Jeffrey Loria for $158.5 million, above the $137 million estimate. Loria sold the Expos to the other 29 teams for $120 million.

"Our figures represent what we think the teams would be worth in an arms-length transaction," Ozanian said.

Rounding out the top 10 are the Mariners ($373M), Indians ($360M), Rangers ($356M), Giants ($355M), Rockies ($347M).

The rest: Astros ($337M), Orioles ($319M), Cubs ($287M), Diamondbacks ($280M), Cardinals ($271M), Tigers ($262M), Pirates ($242M), Brewers ($238M), Phillies ($231M), White Sox ($223M), Padres ($207M), Reds ($204M), Angels ($195M), Blue Jays ($182M), Athletics ($157M), Royals ($152M), Devil Rays ($142M), Marlins ($137M), Twins ($127M), and the Expos ($108M).

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