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Thank Goodness! The Yankees may finally be profitable!

Yankee Stadium

The bones of this story from the New York Post are all well and good: the Yankees are refinancing $1 billion in debt they still owe on Yankee Stadium, taking advantage of lower interest rates and, in all likelihood, saving them perhaps $10 million a year. That’s good for any business, obviously.

The framing of it all is pretty hilarious, though:

Yankees team owner Hal Steinbrenner is making a new pitch to return the team to profitability . . . Shaving perhaps as much as $10 million annually from the stadium loans could make the team profitable, said a source familiar with the team’s finances.

Baseball finances are notoriously opaque. Most teams are 100% privately owned and many of them, the Yankees included, are still family owned. While they’re big businesses on a big stage with TV and famous employees and all of that, the model is still roughly that of a car dealership. You don’t know what Biff Hopkins of Biff Hopkins Chevrolet makes or what his company’s balance sheet looks like exactly, but you know his spoiled punk kid has a brand new Corvette, Biff owns a lake house and they’re the richest dadgum family in this here county.

The same with the Yankees. It’s laughable in the extreme to suggest that the Yankees are losing money or just about breaking even. They may say that themselves when it suits them to portray themselves in that fashion, but it takes a lot of magical thinking to accept it at face value. This is illustrated six paragraphs later by this passage, which negates the entire framework of the piece:

The Yanks are roughly breaking even now. That’s just the team and doesn’t include other businesses, such as the YES Network or Legends Hospitality.

You know, the other businesses owned by the same people, making money directly off of the allegedly breaking-even baseball team but categorized in certain ways for certain purposes.

Among the purposes, as the article makes clear, is to structure stadium financing in super convoluted way so as to allow the city to issue bonds for what is, essentially, a money-printing operation for one of sports’ richest franchises.

Oh, I’m sorry. For that plucky little small business in the Bronx, just trying to make ends meet so it can stay family-owned for another 43 years.

Follow @craigcalcaterra