Will Major League Baseball strike out?
Pity Major League Baseball.
The U.S. sports league will be the first to face the recession from the beginning of its season, and team officials are bracing for a decline in attendance of as much as 10 percent.
Two-thirds of the 30 MLB teams have frozen or cut their ticket prices and many have made similar moves on their concessions and souvenirs, team officials said. Combine that with the cutbacks in spending on suites and blocks of tickets by companies and the sport’s revenue also could slip.
Baseball officials are especially worried about teams in California and the Midwest.
The league already has frozen its budget and hiring, echoing moves made by most sports. The NFL, NBA and several NASCAR race teams have cut jobs, Arena Football canceled its season and a couple of teams in smaller sports have folded.
Far from striking out, however, baseball is in good shape. It saw record revenue last year, just launched a new TV network and has long-term broadcast agreements in place to weather the economic storm.
If the recession does not land beyond this season, baseball and other sports should recover nicely as consumers still love distractions in tough times, analysts and sports industry executives have said.