A responsibility to win?

These are fairly good times for Minnesota sports fans. The Vikings won last night and some people think they’re Super Bowl bound. The Twins look like division winners. The Wolves are… well, let’s just forget about the Wolves for now; everyone else has.

But a revelation in the sports business world this week has rekindled a debate in the world of sports and the cities and states who often throw millions of dollars at them for sports stadiums: What responsibility do teams have to win?

A study this week revealed that the Pittsburgh Pirates — the worst team in baseball for an entire generation — are making money.

“They appear to be putting profits ahead of winning,” he tells NPR’s Audie Cornish, describing some financial documents leaked to The Associated Press that detail the team’s 2007-2008 finances. According to those documents, the Pirates made nearly $29.4 million in profit in 2007 and 2008.

They make money because of revenue-sharing. Other teams give them money and it’s up to the Pirates to pocket it, or spend it to present a better product.

Here’s the whole story.

  • Um, while you were busy not paying attention to the Timberwolves, Kevin Love pulled down his second straight double-double in FIBA play over in Turkey.

    And if making money is what counts, the Wolves are going into this season with the smallest payroll in the NBA. How small? If they don’t increase it by season’s end, they’ll be fined by the NBA.

  • John O.

    The owners put an absolutely putrid product on the field, yet they sit back and charge big league prices to the fans who have the courage to attend a game. Meanwhile, their share of the wealth from their colleagues keeps on coming with no incentive to improve their team.

    In some respects, this is a microcosm of many businesses and their political allies who claim to loathe government, regulation and redistribution of resources at every opportunity.

    Unless it is deposited into their own account. Then they complain about taxes.

    It’s the “something for nothing” mentality that permeates nearly every political discussion today.

  • bsimon

    That’s one of the ironies about pro sports – the teams really don’t have an obligation to anyone, yet they argue we should feel obliged to build stadiums for them. And its true, we do collectively derive some kind of satisfaction when our teams win – and even when they lose. The entire relationship is rather bizarre, when you think about it. Personally I’d be less bitter about it if it weren’t so expensive.