OK, let me make something clear up front: you should be able to tell from the title of this post that this information contained within comes with giant grains of salt.
Whose take on the inner workings of the Rogers-Blue Jays relationship am I asking you to consider at least thinking about maybe believing? What that would be Redditor BlueJaysDynasty! And while I must admit that the details in these notes make it feel believable that this person was working (interning, to be exact) in the Blue Jays’ front office, that certainly doesn’t mean we need to take the financial stuff at face value. This person might not have figures right, might not know upper level workings — hell, this person might not even be who they say they are. Maybe this is stuff a friend has told them and they’re posing as them. Maybe they’re just making it all up!
Like I said the last time I passed along unverified information from the dark recesses of the internet — a story that sure seems to have been incorrect, and which I have, in fact, been told was off — I really don’t want to look like an asshole here if anything about it is wrong.
Not that this is exactly explosive information. Don’t get too excited! Just a bit of an interesting tidbit on the financial side, with a couple of anecdotes mixed in.
Everything quoted here is copy-pasted straight from /r/TorontoBlueJays. Check it out:
I have recently found this sub reddit and thought it would be an awesome place to talk about my experiences working in FO for the Jays. I’ll just put everything in bullet point form so it’ll be easier to read lol.
- On like my 3rd day on the job the Jays were away and I was on my lunch break, I usually take the elevator to get out of the stadium and find a restaurant or whatever. As the elevator door opens I run into Mark Shapiro, and we were the only ones in the elevator. I’m just blankly starring at him and I asked if he was Mark? He then responded, “Yes I am Mark” with a smile and gave me a handshake saying it was nice to meet me. In his other hand he was holding his lunch, it looked like a regular sandwich in a container, I’m just like in my head “You’re supposed to be rich as hell, where’s your gourmet meal?”… I guess he’s cheap when it comes to his lunch also lol (jk). I then ran into him quite a few times, he always greeted me. One day I was walking by the exec offices and over heard him on the phone, the only sentence I could catch was, “No that player can’t hit” I would assume he was looking to acquire a player. Overall Mark was a super nice guy, went about his business and treated everyone as equals.
- Another awesome person I met was the clubhouse manager Kevin Malloy. It was great getting to know him, he’s easily one of the most hilarious people I know. He’ll screw with your head like no tomorrow. He was generous enough to give us stuff from the club house, like their official team’s hat and their nice ass sweaters that the bullpen wears. One day he gave us a clubhouse tour after the game and It was pretty awesome, got to see and meet many of the players but they were all shirtless (I awesome they came out of the shower). Smoak was looking at me and my co-workers with a confused look, like who the hell are these people? lmao. I was able to see Josh Donaldson eating at their Café, and leading into the café was a narrow hallway which we were kind a blocking and Goins needed to get through so he said “Excuse me fellas” which was kind of cool haha. Also Chris Rowley was lost, so we had to give him directions lol.
- On game days I usually get something from the concession stands and watch about 3 innings of the game if the jays are home. We get 50% off on all foods which was an absolute bargain, I always got the jerk chicken poutine or spicy chicken sandwich from Muddy York. It was amazing lol. I met a lot of cool fans and also noticed a crap ton of people always getting drilled with foul balls every game which is why I support the extended netting as much as it sucks.
- This is more on the financial side of things, but I feel like it should come to attention. The amount of times I see people calling the Bluejays or their GMs cheap is ridiculous. Just an FYI, Jays ticket prices are going up not because of minimum wage, but because we are selling our tickets less than par when comparing to other MLB teams. That has to do with our weak dollar. Jays needed roughly $250M to break even last year, which was no easy task. Sending in paperwork to Rogers for more payroll is a god damn mission also. It’s very hard to get Rogers to approve extra payroll and rightfully so. If the Jays are profitable (Which they were last year) why change anything? From a business standpoint it makes sense from a fan standpoint it’s obviously frustrating. I guess you really do have a beef when you call the Ownership cheap, but definitely not the Organization itself.
It was really cool getting close and personal with the organization, the Bluejays really care about their employees. A lot of people I know work for MSLE and the Jays, and they all told me the Jays treat them much better. I’m sure I missed a lot, please ask any questions if you’re curious!
My first thought? I hope this person doesn’t have a non-disclosure agreement he or she is violating here. Or… OK, actually my first thought was about the “awesome” Freudian slip about the players coming out of the shower. But the interesting stuff, I think, is that last point on the finances.
So the Jays made money last year. They generated at least $250 million in revenue, because they need to do so to break even. Their $165 million USD payroll translates at today’s exchange rate to $205 million CAD. Considering all the other expenses (draft and international budget, staff payroll, travel budget, keeping the lights in the building on, etc.) that… probably makes sense?
The ticket stuff? As much as fans like to grumble about the rise, that’s just objectively true. The previous regime just didn’t seem to do a great job of keeping ticket prices in line with the rest of the industry. That’s partly because their predecessors did a poor job at it, and I’d think partly because the teams were not great until the very end. But the club also lost a lot of ticket revenue by being late to the party on dynamic pricing — they’d have made a fortune in the final months of 2015 if they had a system in place that pushed ticket prices up based on increased demand, but they didn’t, and a whole lot of revenue instead went to the secondary ticket market. You also see that they’re now trying other somewhat creative ways to create additional ticket revenue, like the new six game packsI wrote about last week, which in theory will get fans to buy a whole lot of tickets to some of the schedule’s less desirable games by tying them in with some of the real big ticket ones and putting the packs up for sale a few weeks before single game tickets become available for purchase.
And as I noted in that piece about the game packs, the cost of the Jays’ cheapest pack is still less than the cheapest pack offered by Cleveland. In other words: expect more ticket increases in the years to come. Just maybe don’t pin that on the Blue Jays trying to rip you off. They need to keep up with the rest of the industry or they put themselves at a real disadvantage.
Especially when they’re already disadvantaged by the way that Rogers views the club.
The friction with Rogers is perhaps the real noteworthy thing in all this. Which isn’t to say that this person is saying that there’s friction, per se, but combined this with the odd story I’ve heard about grumbling within the front office about their dealings with their giant corporate owner and… yeah… friction is perhaps correct. Stop me if you’ve heard all this before! Like maybe in literally every year ever. *COUGH* But the shitty thing is, I have no idea how the Jays change that relationship, and more importantly, I wonder if they do, either.
Obviously part of their strategy is to maximize what they can do within the limitations placed on them, but the “if the Jays are profitable why change anything?” attitude from the top continues as the prevailing way of thinking, it’s always going to be tough. And that’s not even necessarily just about payroll, but you wonder how it bleeds into other things needed to maximize what the organization can be — stadium renovations, player and staff amenities, etc. etc. etc.
I don’t want to paint too bleak a picture based on what some person is claiming on Reddit, especially when we’re talking about a club that has a very healthy payroll at the moment, particularly as compared to where it was at just a few years ago ($163 million last year, $70 million in 2011 per Cot’s), but it’s interesting stuff here. And I think worth considering — at least, as the Redditor says, before anybody goes off insisting that it’s the Blue Jays that are cheap, or that it’s Shapiro and Atkins that are cheap.