Visiting Broadcasters Concerned Over Park and Power Fees at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field

By Ken Kerschbaumer

The New York Yankees and New York Mets opened new Major League Baseball stadiums to much fanfare, but visiting broadcasters are less than thrilled with new parking and power fees that are five to six times more expensive than those at nearly every other ballpark. “This is going to become like the wild, wild West,” says a regional network executive. “The only thing to do is not televise the games. But right now, we’re over the barrel.”

In 2009, parking and power at Yankee Stadium will set broadcasters back $3,999 for eight hours, plus an additional $245 per hour overtime. Other charges include $1,500 per generator for a series and $1,500 per game for B units. Even more distressing to broadcasters are industry-first charges of $325 for each triax camera position and $225 for fibered positions.

Those fees mean that Sportstime Ohio, the first network to be subject to the new Yankee Stadium fees, this weekend will pay approximately $27,000 to broadcast three games. The typical fee for parking and power around the league is approximately $1,200 per game.

“The only thing we can do is work with the Indians to turn around and charge the YES Network the same thing,” says Jim Liberatore, SportsTime Ohio president. “But our biggest concern is, what if other stadiums in big cities look at this and decide they can do it, too?”

Liberatore is concerned that the precedent of charges could expand even further. “Next thing you know, they’ll be charging us for seats in the press box and rent for the booth,” he says. “And we’ll be tempted to not broadcast the games at all if this gets too crazy.”

Channel 4 San Diego, the home network of the San Diego Padres, is the first regional network to visit Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets. Charges at Citi Field are $4,500 per trailer per day.

Dennis Morgigno, general manager of Channel 4 San Diego, says the situation demands that Major League Baseball step in and regulate charges. The danger, he says, is an all-out war as networks and other teams strike back by charging the YES Network and SportsNet New York, the regional networks that broadcast Yankee and Mets games, respectively, similar fees when the two teams are on the road.

“It’s certainly something the teams will want to discuss amongst one another because this is the first shot in a war where teams say to each other, ‘When your team comes to our stadium next time, we’ll charge you the same amount of money,’” says Morgigno. “The teams need to get together on this and not shoot each other in the foot.”

The Indians and Padres have the benefit of having to visit the stadiums only once. But broadcasters of teams in the same division as the Yankees and Mets will need to visit three times this season, potentially adding $100,000 in production costs.

The volatility of the situation is one of the reasons other leagues, notably the NBA and NHL, have established rate cards and the NFL charges no fees. The rate cards ensure that visiting broadcasters are charged the same fees from one venue to the next. And while regional networks are not happy with certain aspects of the cards, such as having to use specified trucks and vendors, they appreciate the cost certainty.

Glenn Adamo, NFL VP of Media Operations and Broadcasting, says the NFL does not charge national broadcasters for parking, power, and cabling, along with up to 25 parking spaces for TV crew in a rental lot adjacent to NFL stadiums.

“You need to take care of the rightsholder and have them put money into the broadcast to celebrate and showcase the sport,” he says. “The question for the Mets and Yankees is whether it’s more important for the networks to use money to make the teams and stadium look good on national TV or help pay for asphalt.”

It could be the YES Network and SportsNet New York that could feel the brunt of the anger. Other teams could charge them similar fees, a move that could add, potentially, more than $500,000 each in parking and power fees to their budgets.

Looking to next year, Morgigno says the Padres may need to address the situation by broadcasting only two of the three games. And broadcasters that visit Yankee Stadium may end up using fewer cameras.

“Unfortunately,” adds Liberatore, “it will end up being the fan on the couch who suffers.”

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