A-Rod 'sideshow' boosts Yankees ticket sales
Alex Rodriguez's suspension may be under appeal, but his economic impact continues to weigh heavily on the Bronx Bombers.
It's been a rough season for the New York Yankees. The team is hovering around the .500 mark in the win/loss column and is currently ranked fourth in the five-team American League East.
Luckily, fans have something else to obsess over: the Alex Rodriguez saga, with the Yankees third baseman facing a 211-game suspension from play as part of a wider investigation into use of performance-enhancing drugs.
A-Rod is appealing the suspension, and the Yankees, meanwhile, are trying to get as much as they can out of him. Rodriguez is one of baseball's leading hitters, with 647 career home runs -- the fifth-highest on Major League Baseball's all-time list. In 2007, the Yankees signed him to the largest contract ever in the history of U.S. sports, at $275 million for 10 years.
But he's just returning to the team's lineup for the season after being out since hip surgery in January and a disappointing 2012 season.
A number of sports observers say Yankees management would welcome the idea of A-Rod's missing out on all of the 2014 season.
"Not only does the team not have to pay A-Rod during the length of his suspension," Rick Weiner writes at Bleacher Report, "but his salary doesn't count against the team's luxury tax number." That's the league's salary cap, aimed at preventing the teams with the biggest bankrolls from grabbing all of the most talented players and keeping the league competitively balanced.
"Removing A-Rod's $25 million salary in 2014," Weiner writes, "makes achieving that goal significantly easier."
But while A-Rod has been jeered by fans since his return, the controversy has helped the Yankees box office. Bloomberg, quoting data from the ticket aggregator TiqIQ, says the average resale price for a Yankees home-game ticket has gone up by 24% since the suspension was announced Monday. Available seats at Yankee Stadium have fallen by 47% since the announcement.
"The best way to quantify this increase is to say that fans want to see the sideshow," Chris Matcovich, a TiqIQ spokesman, told Bloomberg by email. "The team has obviously been struggling as of late, but the circumstances surrounding Rodriguez have piqued an interest among even casual fans."
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