Yanks' income hurt by fewer playoff games

View of Yankee Stadium before a game against

View of Yankee Stadium before a game against the Los Angeles Angels. (April 13, 2012) (Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

The Yankees' overall ticket and luxury suite revenue has declined 11 percent since the new Yankee Stadium opened, dropping from $397 million in 2009 to $353 million last year, according to financial disclosure statements obtained by Newsday.

The team pledged its ticket and suite sales to back up the tax-exempt bonds used to build Yankee Stadium. Newsday obtained quarterly revenue statements through Freedom of Information Law requests with New York City's Industrial Development Agency, which issued the bonds.

Jodi Hecht, a Standard & Poor's analyst who writes annual reports regarding the bonds, said the decrease in overall ticket revenue is mostly because the Yankees have hosted fewer postseason games in recent seasons compared with when they won the 2009 World Series. The Yankees declined to comment.

The information focuses only on ticket and luxury suite sales and does not include revenue items such as the team's contract with the YES Network or the Yankees' $230.4 million payroll.

Playoff benefits

Of the $397 million in ticket and suite revenue in 2009, $72 million was generated from the team's eight home playoff games, Hecht said. In the three seasons since, she said the Yankees have averaged an estimated $57 million in playoff ticket revenue from four home playoff games a year.

James Meehan Jr., a retired economics professor from Colby College in Maine who has studied baseball attendance trends, said the rise in Yankees' ticket revenue in the postseason is not surprising because the added importance of each game allows teams to raise prices.

"Being in the playoffs, the very real chance of winning the World Series drives demand well beyond what teams can charge for one game out of 81 regular-season home games," Meehan said.

This season, the Yankees are experiencing a decline at the gate and an injury-riddled roster that could affect whether they will reap the benefits that come with the playoffs.

The Yankees are averaging 39,669 tickets sold through 51 home games, down from 43,733 per game last season and 45,107 in 2011, according to baseball-reference.com.

In its first fiscal quarter filing, the Yankees reported $207 million in ticket and suite revenue, down from $214 million in the first quarter last year. Hecht attributed the decline to the new stadium's novelty wearing off.

Still a better investment

Hecht wrote in her most recent S&P analysis of the Yankees' bonds that attendance was likely to trend slightly downward this season en route to stabilizing at around 3.3 million tickets sold a year, which is above the 20-year average of 3.1 million.

The Yankees drew more than 4 million fans in each of their final four seasons at the old Yankee Stadium, but averaged only $198.4 million in annual ticket and suite revenue, according to the official statement for the Yankees' bonds.

In the first four seasons at the new stadium, financial statements show the team averaged $378 million in ticket and suite revenue, bolstered by postseason runs.

That's one reason why Thomas Metzold, co-director of municipal investments at Eaton Vance Investment Managers, said the Yankees' bonds are a less risky investment than the Mets' bonds. "If you've got 10 extra games because of the playoffs," he said, "think about the extra money that's going to generate." With Randi Marshall

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