MLB projects $640K per game loss with no fans

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Second base sits in its place in an otherwise empty ballpark where grounds crew members continue to keep the Seattle Mariners' field in playing shape as the ballpark goes into its seventh week without baseball played because of the coronavirus outbreak Monday, May 11, 2020, in Seattle. A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that Major League Baseball owners have given the go-ahead to making a proposal to the players' union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

NEW YORK – Major League Baseball told players their prorated salaries would contribute to an average loss of $640,000 for each game over an 82-game season in empty ballparks, according to a presentation from the commissioner’s office to the union that was obtained by The Associated Press.

Painting a picture of a $10 billion industry shuttered by the contagion, the 12-page document titled “Economics of Playing Without Fans in Attendance” and dated May 12 was an initial step in negotiations aimed at starting the delayed season around the Fourth of July.

Teams say the proposed method of salvaging a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic would still cause a $4 billion loss and would give major league players 89% of revenue.

They contend they lose more money with each additional game played. The players' union, however, believes clubs would lose less money with more games. In addition, many teams and/or their owners have stakes in their regional sports network that would benefit from additional games.

Owners voted Monday to propose salaries be based on a 50-50 split of revenue, a framework players say is tantamount to the kind of salary cap they will never accept. Teams gave the players' association their virus-testing plan Friday and have waited to make their economic proposal.

The New York Yankees alone would have $312 million in local losses when calculating their earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. New York's figure includes about $100 million toward the bonds that financed new Yankee Stadium, money that already has been paid for 2020.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were at $232 million in local losses, followed by the New York Mets at $214 million, Chicago Cubs at $199 million and Boston Red Sox at $188 million.

Detroit would have the lowest negative EBIDTA — an accounting measure used to assess profitability — at $84 million, with Baltimore at $90 million, and Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay at $91 million each. Figures exclude distributions from the central office, which projects to collect $1.34 billion in media revenue.