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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

[Australian] Baseball attendances a numbers game

Melbourne Aces, who call the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds home, have attracted one crowd of more than 1500 in 10 openings this season.
...

[ABL chief executive Peter Wermuth] said the ABL needed crowds of at least 2500 to be sustainable, but he added there wasn’t an expectation that mark would be reached in the second year.

“We knew it would be a long haul. We’re looking for slow growth rather than take steps that we couldn’t afford or sustain. Our biggest challenge ... is a lack of decent venues. We knew this going in, but we didn’t realise how bad the situation was. It affects us on all kinds of fronts - it makes it tough to get people in the stands, to get corporates involved and, almost in every case, they’re not set up for TV.

You want sponsors?  Put a team in Toowoomba.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:28 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, international

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:42 AM (#4033936)
TFA says Major League Baseball is committed to keeping the ABL around for at least five years. Given the MLB players that have come out of Australia over the past 20 years, it seems really short-sighted to me that they wouldn't just bankroll the thing (in some form or fashion) indefinitely. Sure, they'd probably lose money on it, but a stable ABL would almost certainly develop quality players and expand MLB's overseas fan base/television audience/merchandising.

I think they'd be wise to look at it like NBA teams are beginning to approach the D-League. You may lose a couple hundred thousand dollars a year on the thing, but it has the potential for a substantial payoff in talent down the road. It's not a financial black hole, it's an investment.
   2. rfloh Posted: January 11, 2012 at 08:22 PM (#4034669)
". Rubber Krapp's #1 Fan (Dan Lee) Posted: January 11, 2012 at 03:42 AM (#4033936)
TFA says Major League Baseball is committed to keeping the ABL around for at least five years. Given the MLB players that have come out of Australia over the past 20 years, it seems really short-sighted to me that they wouldn't just bankroll the thing (in some form or fashion) indefinitely. Sure, they'd probably lose money on it, but a stable ABL would almost certainly develop quality players and expand MLB's overseas fan base/television audience/merchandising."

But the Aussie population is pretty small. Slightly over 20 million. Even if it manages to somehow beat out cricket, rugby union, not to mention the 2 most popular sports, Aussie Rules and rugby league, you aren't getting that big a fan base/television audience/merchandising. The issue isn't whether MLB should put money into another league at a loss for long term benefits, the issue is whether it should be Australia.
   3. Juan V Posted: January 11, 2012 at 09:32 PM (#4034719)
At least, as a summer league, it only has to compete directly with cricket, soccer and basketball.
   4. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 12, 2012 at 07:43 AM (#4034916)
But the Aussie population is pretty small. Slightly over 20 million. Even if it manages to somehow beat out cricket, rugby union, not to mention the 2 most popular sports, Aussie Rules and rugby league, you aren't getting that big a fan base/television audience/merchandising. The issue isn't whether MLB should put money into another league at a loss for long term benefits, the issue is whether it should be Australia.

The benefit of doing such a thing in Australia, IMO, is that while the population is pretty small, the sport clearly has a (small, but extant) foothold there. They've produced 26 MLB players since the first ABL was formed in '87, so there's obviously talent to be found. There's no real national infrastructure there, unlike places like the Netherlands and Italy.

It doesn't really have to beat out cricket, rugby union, rugby league, or AFL footy. If TFA is correct, they need to draw 2,500 fans a game to break even. They need to be 80% as popular as netball.

If you're going to spend money to develop a league, fan base, and talent, I think Australia's the best place. There are enough fans that you won't lose zillions of dollars, there's enough local talent that you'll almost certainly produce MLB players, and it's a wealthy country. What are the other realistic options? South Africa, Netherlands, Italy? China?

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