Camelback Ranch isn't especially profitable

Camelback Ranch isn't especially profitable
Poor attendance has been tied to the teams' tendency to wander aimlessly in right field for large amounts of time // Phil Velasquez, Tribune Photo

There are a lot of things about Jerry Reinsdorf I've yet to resolve in my mind, but right at the top of the list is how the famously shrewd Chairman ever came to be business partners with the Arrested-Development-in-real-life former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.  Even as McCourt prepares to depart, their Spring Training facility joint-venture at Camelback Ranch endures, and eh, it's not going particularly well.

They're not losing money on the thing, but the net profit dropped to a little over $750K for 2011, representing a 65% decrease from 2009, which was the last time the Dodgers were unfettered with the troubles of their owners' divorce and subsequent financial crisis.  The decline reads as mostly as the Dodgers fault, too.  Corresponding to their 18% drop in general attendance last season alone, attendance to Dodgers' Spring Training games has dipped 17% since 2009.  Apparently, you can have the best position player and best pitcher in the sport, but people still don't like it when you mismanage the rest of the franchise into mediocrity through preposterous self-indulgence.

While it would certainly seem like the Dodgers are harshing Jerry's mellow, and not putting forth their part of the facility's shared profit, the almost completely static attendance average of ~6,100 per game certainly doesn't represent the type of growth the White Sox envisioned when they left Tuscon after 2008.

The huge Salt River Fields complex that houses the Rockies and Diamondbacks near the more lively Scottsdale area probably has, and will continue to draw a huge chunk of the local interest away from Camelback.  The only solution to that would be, what, lower ticket prices, right?  No. No.  Not that, never that...wait, no, yes!  Yes!

"Ticket prices at Camelback Ranch have been cut this spring, with half-price tickets available for the Dodgers' first three games -- March 5 vs. the White Sox; March 6 vs. the San Francisco Giants and March 8 vs. the Oakland A's."

Jim Margalus has dutifully documented the long-lasting refusal by the powers that be to budge any on Spring Training ticket prices, but lo and behold, the years of tepid sales have provoked a reported 13% decline in prices.  That's pretty far from countering the superior product in Scottsdale with lower prices, but you're really going to have to grateful for incremental progress with the White Sox for a while.

Other Stuff

Phil Rogers says Tony La Russa would have been interested in inexplicably taking on the managing gig of the re-tooling White Sox after retiring from a team he had spent 16 seasons and won two championships with, he just didn't want to manage against his best friend, Jim Leyland.  This sounds like the excuse you make when you have absolutely no real interest in the position.

While I'm diving down the Rogers hole, he also says that the White Sox are in on the Jorge Soler bidding, and could be willing to offer as much as anyone.  Per the way this off-season has carried out, being mentioned in the rumors means the Sox are pretty much doomed.

ESPN.com's Keith Law, Jim Bowden, and Buster Olney combined to project which teams are best set up for 5 years down road.  They ranked the White Sox 28th.  Beyond asking 'Did Bowden use OPSRBI's to calculate his rankings?", or snidely comment that projecting results at this stage based just on organizational rankings and current rosters is only slightly more useful than running Out Of The Park on auto-play for five seasons and seeing what happens, count this as more entry on the "everyone thinks the White Sox are screwed" tally.

Brian Anderson is still pitching, despite needing to get a rib removed in a procedure last year to relieve his arm pain.  He's 29, and hoping to regain the mid-90's velocity he flashed during the 25 innings of professional pitching he's gotten in.  It sounds like he faces a rather perilous path to the majors and doesn't possess a typical pitch arsenal, but hey, his stats aren't half bad.  This organization just gave Mitch Mustain a minor league contract after all.

 

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  • My feelings about Reinsdorf are pretty resolved.

    I'm sure they would prefer to be making more money, but I would guess that Reinsdorf and the Sox remain pretty insulated from losses at Camelback. That's just how Jerry rolls (it's been suggested that, because of their tax deal, the Sox make more at US Cell if they draw less: http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/mlb/chicago_white_sox/)

    Plus, Reinsdorf didn't pay for the facility (it cost $100 mil). The state of Arizona is mostly on the hook for it, the rest of the investment came from a private development group:

    "The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority footed two-thirds of the $100 million tab to build the baseball campus. The remainder was paid by Rightpath Limited, which will develop the extra acreage into the Main Street Glendale project, consisting of an 18-hole golf course, hotels, shopping and residential units. " ("In a league of its own - The Sox' new baseball complex hits it out of the park" Chicago Sun-Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009 Author: Dave Hoekstra)

    And the city of Glendale, AZ has a history of bad deals with pro sports franchises: http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/2011/05/4550_glendale_pays_a.html

    Yeah, I think Jerry will be fine. It's local taxpayers and private developers who will be feeling the pain. And then they'll take it out on immigrants.

    "Objection, move to strike!"
    "Sustained. The jury will disregard that last statement."

  • In reply to Chris Lamberti:

    I am shocked, SHOCKED, that Reinsdorf and Frank McCourt did not personally foot the bill on this.

    I am actually surprised that ChicagoNow still flags your comments with links in them after you've been registered as a contributor.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you that I dabble in espionage. I'm being watched.

  • In reply to Chris Lamberti:

    Being watched seems like an indicator of low-quality espionage. Stop dabbling and go all-in. Going all-in works.

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