Monday, April 03, 2006

TV is the key

So, after all the stadium talk and corporate wooing and luxury suites, it looks like the relocation of the Florida Marlins to San Antonio will come down to what kind of television deal can be put together:
For the first time since preliminary talks about a possible Marlins' move to San Antonio began in December, team President David Samson spelled out many details that would have to be met for the club to agree to relocation.

No. 1 is the team's need for a TV deal that would generate millions of dollars per season.

"(Stadium) naming rights, suite deals, season-ticket sales, corporate support — without all of that there is no franchise," Samson said. "But TV revenue is the engine that keeps the train rolling."

This right here tells me the Marlins are now using San Antonio just as every other pro sports franchise flirting with relocation has used the city over the past three decades--as leverage in negotiations with other sites. Of all the economic factors San Antonio has going for it in terms of relocation, television is the weakest link. SA's only the 37th largest television market in the country, and even rolling Austin into the equation (which is a mixed bag), it's still going to be tough to generate the kind of broadcasting revenue the Marlins are getting in south Florida.
FSN Florida, an affiliate of Fox Sports Net, recently received exclusive rights to televise Marlins games in South Florida beginning this season. Samson declined to reveal the amount Fox is paying the Marlins to broadcast as many as 150 of their 162 games.

"The biggest issue we are having right now as we go through the numbers in San Antonio is trying to figure out where we fit in the broadcast market," Samson said.

"It's the No. 1 factor we can't firmly come to grips with, and it's a huge area of competition between Major League Baseball teams and a huge factor in revenue sharing."

Sources said the Marlins already have had exploratory talks with Fox Sports Southwest.

"They are aware of our current situation and recognize the possibility of us moving into one of their markets," Samson said.

San Antonio is the nation's No. 37 media market. Fox Sports Southwest broadcasts Astros games to San Antonio.

Asked what would happen with the Astros and Fox if the Marlins move to San Antonio, Samson said: "It's complicated. A TV territory would have to be carved out and then monetized."

My gut's been telling me for a while now that there's a 75 percent chance of the Marlins staying put and working something out in Miami. Unless the team is in imminent danger of bankruptcy, as were the Montreal Expos, there's no way MLB will allow franchises to move like the NFL or NBA does. Were the Marlins to move, I suspect there's a 75 percent chance the Marlins would land in SA. Ifs and nuts and all that. Time to exhale, folks. Despite all the sound and fury, this one ain't gonna happen.

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1 comment:

  1. Scott Cupp12:28 PM

    Jayme -
    Your thoughts are well reasoned. However, I see no hope of the the Cowboys/Texans or the Rangers/Astros approving any sort of franchise that will eat into their market. And as a 44 year Cowboy fan, I want to see thier games in my San Antonio home and not those of some wanna-be team (which currently describes the Cowboys, unfortunately)