Essential Pittsburgh
4:43 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

The Business of Major League Baseball

Credit Jwalter522 / Flickr

Pittsburgh Pirates fans are rejoicing after last night’s win against the Texas Rangers. The rare inter-league game insured the Bucco’s first winning season in 20 years.

This resurgence of Pittsburgh baseball has not only bolstered the morale of the Steel City, but proved to be monetarily successful. The Pirates have produced larger revenue this year than any other since tracking began in 1998. Business contributor Rebecca Harris speaks with MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo and Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino about the business of baseball.

Given the market and revenue size, Mayo explains, the Pirates use their profit-sharing system efficiently. Despite the smaller size of the Pirates franchise, they are well known for spending money on the draft alongside wealthier teams like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

Lucchino says this has worked for the Pirates, especially on the cusp of this year’s success. “They’re another example that you don’t need marquee names or long-term gigantic contracts to win in baseball,” Lucchino says.

Because sports fans will likely always watch their sports live and not recorded, Lucchino and Mayo agree that the next step in baseball economics will be tackling the younger generation. This will require moving the platform from televisions to “small screens,” such as tablets and smartphones. They’ve also considered changing the pace and length of baseball games to appeal to younger fans.