Texas Rangers Financial Issues
Last week, the story broke that Rangers’ ownership had defaulted on a $525 million loan secured by the Rangers and Dallas Stars hockey team. Principal owner Tom Hicks downplayed the revelation, indicating that the ownership group is attempting to restructure the financing by withholding a payment that was due. However, the word in the Dallas business community is that Hicks will have a difficult time dealing with the lender. There is even the possibility that Hicks’ ownership group could ultimately be forced to sell the team.
Quite frankly, this would be good news for Ranger fans. Hicks bought the team in 1998 and initially let the management in place handle the baseball aspects of the team. Texas went on to win the West in 1998 and ’99, but went 0-6 in the playoff. That’s when Hicks decided to get involved with the baseball management, and it’s been downhill since. Over the past decade, he has literally run the team into the ground. Attendance is down by roughly 1,000,000 per year, slipping below 2,000,000 last season for the first time in 20 years. So far this year, the average attendance is 24,501 for nine home dates, tenth in the American League and 19% below the Major League average of 30,298 for the first two weeks of the season. Bad teams on the field have been the main culprit for the declining attendance, but Hicks’ marketing department has gone to great lengths to alienate season ticket holders. The season ticket sales have eroded to the point that the team no longer announces how many season tickets it has sold.
On the field since 1999, there have been three general managers and four field managers. The coaching staff outside of hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo, has been a revolving door. The team has finished above .500 just once and out of last place just twice. It’s a pitiful showing considering that the Dallas-Ft. Worth television market is one of the top 10 in the country, and that Arlington, Texas voters have generously provided a new generation stadium. Despite these revenue generating advantages, the Rangers are in baseball’s bottom third in salaries.
By: Richard W. Humphrey
MLBcenter.com Guest Writer
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