Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Good Guy: Brewers' Owner Mark Attanasio

Mark Attanasio said when he bought the Brewers back in 2005, the payroll was 39 million, and he never thought there would be a day when it would be over 90 million, and approaching a hundred million dollars a year.

But that day is here.

Attanasio says the Brewers payroll is over 90 million right now, and he’s still trying to figure out a way to sign Prince Fielder to keep him with the Brew-Crew. Milwaukee is the smallest media market in the big leagues, and Packers fans understand very well the implications of trying to run a big-time team in a “small” town.

Because Attanasio has opened his wallet pretty wide the past few years, making sure slugger Ryan Braun is secured, and bringing C.C. Sabathia here for that wild ride a couple years ago, the attendance at Miller Park has topped 3 million the past two seasons. That’s a LOT of ‘sconnies through the turnstiles, and the owner, bless his heart, is committed to keeping a Brewers game affordable for the fans. He will not raise ticket prices through the roof just to sign Fielder or keep a stable of high-quality players on the team.

The Brewers average ticket price this year is $22.10, below the major league average of $26.79 and less than half of the average Cubs ticket price of $52.56…which is the highest average ticket cost in the majors this year. Veteran baseball fans know that if you want really good seats at a Brewers game, it can cost you 75 to a hundred bucks at StubHub or one of the other broker sites.

But a primo seat at Wrigley field can set you back 3, 4, or 5 hundred bucks….for a “regular” game. That’s one reason so many Cubs fans invade Miller Park when the Brewers host the Cubs. You can get a really good seat for a fraction of what it would cost to buy one at Wrigley when the Brewers are there.

The National League Central Division is not one known for spending New York City kind of money on payroll, and despite the skyrocketing Brewers payroll over the past few years, the Brewers rank fourth in spending in the division. The Cubs are on top with a payroll this year of 144 million, and the Pirates are on the bottom, with a payroll of 39 million. The Cards spend 94 million to hold the #2 slot, the Astros 92 million, then comes Milwaukee at 90 million and the Reds at 76 million.

Like any smart business man, Mark Attanasio praises his customers, and credits the fans with terrific support of the team. And, because he’s been willing to spend money to keep the team in contention, the fans return the love and keep buying tickets.

As a born-and-raised ‘sconnie, I think a lot of our state’s sports fans are like me. You don’t have to win the division pennant or the World Series or the Super Bowl every year. You just need to put a competitive team on the field, give them the coaching they need, and treat the fans with respect.

I think all those elements are in place again this year for the Brewers, and I’m proud to wear my Brewers blue and cheer for them.

Now, if we can just BEAT the Cubs tomorrow....

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