I couldn’t help but notice that we we’re getting hits from Boston Sports Media Watch. While we weren’t linked directly in a post, my recent Red Sox column was linked in the comments. The commenter found the column on Twitter and cited it as evidence that the current owners of the Red Sox could be interested in selling.
I must admit, that did make me scratch my head. With Fenway 100 in our midst, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) has likely exhausted all possible sources of ballpark revenue. Owning 80 percent of NESN, the Red Sox can’t capitalize on the Regional Sports Network boom that fueled the $2 billion purchase of the Dodgers and led the Rangers and Angels to invest heavily in payroll. If the Red Sox were a house, they would be prime for flipping.
At the same time, that would make the Red Sox less attractive for a would-be buyer. The Red Sox have become a mature business. There really isn’t much a new owner could do to increase revenue. In 2002 when the Yawkey Trust sold the team ballpark, revenue was significantly less than it is now. Any new owner who invested in a new park or renovated Fenway could expect to grow game revenue significantly. NESN, at that time, was only a few years removed from being a premium channel, so there was still room to grow its distribution and ratings. If John Henry and company were inclined to sell, they would make a healthy profit, but maybe not as much as one would think.
I always thought that Liverpool, beyond opening a new revenue stream for a mature business, would provide Fenway Sports Group a way to circumvent MLB revenue sharing rules. The Commissioner’s office does monitor related party transactions, so clubs can’t hide revenue in other business they own. But is it any coincidence that Warrior is
Liverpool’s new kit provider when their parent New Balance is a major Red Sox sponsor?
My guess is that the owners are not looking to sell up any time soon. Being able to package sponsorships with one of the world’s best known baseball teams, with “the world’s most historic soccer club,” and LeBron James is one-stop shopping for a multi-national corporation that wants to further its interests in sport marketing. All they need for it to work is for the Red Sox to get out of last, Liverpool to qualify for the Champions League and LeBron to win an NBA Championship.