Cincinnati Reds projected to lose $130 million without fans

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 04: Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 04: Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

If no fans are at Great American Ball Park during the 2020 season, MLB projects that the Cincinnati Reds would lose $130 million.

According to ESPN, if the players received the prorated salary that was agreed upon back in March, Major League Baseball projects that the losses would be tremendous without fans in attendance. The Cincinnati Reds would be projected to lose approximately $130M. That’s a tough pill to swallow for the owners, with the average per game loss sitting at $640K.

These projections are part of a 12-page document, Economics of Playing Without Fans in Attendance, that the owners are using in negotiations with the players. The players had initially agreed to prorated salaries back in March, but with the prospects of playing in front of empty stadiums, the owners are hoping for a 50/50 revenue share for the 2020 season.

Initially thought to be a non-starter, these latest projections paint a bleak picture for owners throughout MLB. The Los Angeles Dodgers were projected to lose $232M, and the New York Yankees, unsurprisingly, topped the graphic with projected losses of $312M.

MLB claims that 39% of total revenue from 2019 came from local gate and in-park sources (concessions, gift shops, etc.). If that source of revenue is not available in 2020, losses are inevitable. While the Players Association may not like the idea, playing ball with the owners in terms of revenue sharing for the 2020 season may be necessary.

According to ESPN, the fear of a second wave of the pandemic also greatly affects the owners thoughts on the 2020 season. If government restrictions shut down the season, perhaps during the playoffs, MLB could miss out on over $700M in media money.

Fans are eager to see the baseball restart, perhaps as early as July. However, these negotiations are not promising. The owners and players can’t seem to agree, as of yet, on how to handle the economics of the 2020 season. From a safety standpoint, however, MLB recently put forth some guidelines that have yet to be approved by the Player’s Association.

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To be clear, this is the information provided by the owners, not the players, who are sure to have their doubts as to the accuracy of the information. In the end, MLB and the player’s union must find common ground and get baseball back on the field in 2020. If the player’s acquiesce to the owners this time, they may have strong support from the public heading into negotiations next year.