Capital Markets

A Deal Not Even Mariano Rivera Can Close

Hard times have left the Yankees with unsold $600,000 season boxes for the 2009 season.
Stephen TaubNovember 12, 2008

The financial crisis has thrown the New York Yankees a curve as the team prepares to move into its new stadium next season.

The baseball organization with the largest player payroll is apparently having trouble pitching its most-expensive luxury suites and choice seats — sale of which doubtless is needed to help acquire free-agent stars to help a team that missed out on postseason play this year.

Seven luxury boxes along the foul lines, priced at $600,000, remain available for the 2009 season, according to the Associated Press.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that the world is different than it was, so traffic slows,” chief operating officer Lonn Trost told the wire service. “We can see that the economy is affecting the traffic that is coming around. Listen, nobody can avoid it. We recognize it. You wake up in the morning and you see it. So we’re trying to work with our fan base and understand what their needs are.”

The AP noted that Trost said in August that 44 of 51 suites, priced at $600,000 to $850,000 had been committed, and that the $650,000 and $850,000 suites had sold out. However, he stressed at the time that he was not counting the sales until the checks cleared.

“I’m not going to put them into the sold column until somebody sends me an e-mail and says, ‘Done,’” he said. “It’s so hard to say close when you get attorneys involved and you start fighting over terms, and we don’t want to change terms.”

Trost acknowledged that the economic downturn was playing a role in slowing sales, and that it had even impacted the completion of an agreement with Bank of America. “Things are slow to come to fruition, but they’re getting there,” Trost said.

Even so, the Yankee official said that the prospect of lower-than-expected revenues will not deter its free-agent acquisition strategy.

“We’re going to pursue the market aggressively as we do every year,” he said. “The philosophy has not changed.”