Are Perceptions Overwhelming?
Professional sports teams are typically good corporate citizens. As example, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation website states they have made charitable contributions totaling more than $75 million to non-profit organizations and charitable programs across Arizona. Think of all the people they’ve helped and the positive impact they’ve made.
But now, spring training, an industry unto itself here in Arizona, is on hold and may not happen at all this year. A study two years ago found that the two-months of Cactus League spring training games created 3,202 annual jobs with an economic impact of more than $360 million to Arizona, including labor costs and taxes for the state and local governments.
But now there’s a labor dispute between the players and owners. The owners have locked the players out. While both the owners and players would say it’s not about money – that’s the elephant in the room.
The perception of the industry is taking a beating. For the public, it’s about the numbers.
According to the 2021 Fan Cost Index, it cost an average of $253 for a group of four people to attend an MLB game in 2021. Don’t get me wrong – the public has a choice to fork out that kind of money or not.
Luxury industries have a hard time relating to the public in cases like this. Both the owners and the player representatives involved in negotiations have lots of baggage. Baggage needed to carry their money. Here’s how the players’ top negotiators are doing:
Pitcher Max Scherzer recently signed a three-year, $130 million contract. Pitcher Andrew Miller’s most recent contract was a two-year, $25 million deal. Shortstop Francisco Lindor has a 10-year, $341 million contract, which paid him $43.3 million in 2021. Second baseman Marcus Semien signed a seven-year, $175 million contract late last year.
The minimum salary for a major league player was $570,500 in 2021.
Good for them to get that kind of payday.
Bad for them to be in the middle of a labor dispute.
Even when all is said and done and the teams and individual player foundations start doing good things again, it may take some time for the public to re-embrace them.
Public relations programs, including community relations efforts, are not a quick-fix. But – they are a step in the right direction and will make a positive mark.