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Diamondbacks' economic future could depend on new TV deal

The Diamondbacks seek more fans to cheer this and other moments.
The Diamondbacks seek more fans to cheer this and other moments.
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

For the dates August 5, 6, and 7, the Diamondbacks drew a total of 50,643 for this three game series against Kansas City.

Fans showing up for these games could have been enough to just about to fill Chase Field, listed at 48,663 capacity for baseball games. The figures represent troubling news for the Diamondbacks’ economic structure and could portend their ability, or lack of ability, to attract impact players in the up-coming off-season.

With just over one month remaining in the season, the post-season needs are clear. To be competitive in 2015, the essential requirement is quality pitching. That’s the “party line” and towed from field manager Kirk Gibson, to general manager Kevin Towers and down toTony La Russa, the team’s Chief Baseball Officer.

With a current payroll estimated at $73.7 to what is current obligations for 2015 at $89.8 million, the Diamondbacks could push, in the near future, toward the $100 million mark in payroll structure. A majority of the commitment for next few years lay with the contracts of seven players. The question for Ken Kendrick, the team’s managing general partner, is whether he, as the principal who writes the checks, will receive value for investment or try and move the players and their substantial contracts.

Right now, the seven represent a total of $233.9 million committed over the life of the deals signed. These players are catcher Miguel Montero (6-years, $65.9 mil), second baseman Aaron Hill (5-years, $46 mil), first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (5-years, $32 mil), outfielder Cody Ross (3-years, $26 mil), pitcher Bronson Arroyo (2-years, $23.5 mil), pitcher Trevor Cahill (4-years, $30 mil), and pitcher Brad Ziegler (2-years, $10.5 mil).

Give this financial responsibility and the fact the Diamondbacks could not reach the two-million mark in attendance for the first time in franchise history, the team continues to operate in the red.

According to recent figures in Forbes magazine, the Diamondbacks are currently worth $585 million, and that is 21st among the 30 major league franchises. The team generated $192 million in revenue last year, but operated at a $5.8 million loss.

Forbes reported the New York Yankees, purchased by George Steinbrenner for $8.7 million on Jan, 3, 1973, is estimated to be worth $2.5 billion, the most valued franchise in baseball.

The $192 million generated represents an interesting number because four teams listed as lower in value than the Diamondbacks, the Colorado Rockies at $575 mil, the Pittsburgh Pirates at $572 mil, the Cleveland Indians at $570 mil and the Milwaukee Brewers at $565 all had revenues listed greater than the Diamondbacks.

Relative to lower attendance figures, the Diamondbacks are not alone.

Of the 30 franchises, 14 report a lower attendance at this time compared the comparable date of a year ago. After 67 home dates, the Diamondbacks have drawn 1,761,975 or an average of 26,298. After 67 home dates in 2013, Arizona drew 1,681,266 and that’s a decline of 1,205.

In the two year comparison, the Phillies have the biggest drop. For 68 dates at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils are down 7,705 per date. In 2013, they averaged 37,882 and for this season, they averaged 30,174 for the same dates.

What may salvage the Diamondbacks’ economic future could be a new deal with FOX Sports Arizona. After next season, the current eight-year, $250 million TV contract expires and the Diamondbacks will seek a much greater deal. It’s doubtful this will break into the billion dollar mark, as the Dodgers and Phillies are on the brink of smashing such barriers, but the return for Arizona could be sustainable.

If the Diamondbacks are to break the two-million mark in attendance, fans will have to click the turnstiles at Chase Field in good numbers. As well, the number of games remaining in Chase Field are dwindling and their home dates now interfere with school, Arizona State football and advent of the NFL season.

Beginning Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks have five games remaining on this current home stand but three are with the lowly Colorado Rockies. While the team is giving away Bob Brenley bobble-heads on Saturday night, that crowd could surpass the 30,000 barrier. Plus, the Dodgers are scheduled to start Cy Young Award-favorite Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday night and his presence may draw a few walk-up fans.

After the home stand concludes, the Diamondbacks have only nine games remaining in Chase Field among the 26 games left on the schedule. The nine include a weekend series with San Diego Sept.12-14, three during the week (Sept. 15-17, including an afternoon game on Wed. Sept. 17) against the Giants and the final three of the season with the St. Louis Cardinals on the weekend of Sept. 26-28.

Then, the chase to find dollars for pitchers begins in earnest.