One of the more disturbing, disillusion-inducing stories of the last year in sports came out last week when Deadspin, the usually ribald but occasionally brilliant website, uncovered some infuriating secret documents that show that baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates and Florida Marlins, two teams that have been sucking out of the public troughs like elephants on a hot summer day, were using baseball’s revenue sharing programs to line their wallets.
Why is it so infuriating? Because teams who are actually trying to win and still losing money, like your Milwaukee Bucks, have just seen any hope of enhanced revenue sharing streams dry up. And that new Bradley Center wasn’t likely anyway. Thanks, Pit Rats.
How do I know the Bucks lost money? I don’t. But Professor Berri points out in his post that the information Deadspin uncovered was already known. Forbes Magazine had projected each team in the black long before Deadspin proved it. But without the smoking gun provided by Deadspin baseball was able to pull a Sammy Sosa when it came to Forbes projections (“I’m sorry Senator, but my client temporarily lost his ability to understand English“)
The point is, given the recent revelations, Forbes Magazine’s sports financial projections have earned a certain foundation of credibility. And what they say about your Milwaukee Bucks is disturbing, indeed.
According to a Forbes projections from last December, the 2009 Milwaukee Bucks had a lower EBITDA than the Memphis Grizzlies.
May I repeat that? The Bucks had a lower projected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization than the Grizz. Ouch. How is that possible? (Is trying to win, especially via overspending, even worth it?).
Even more disturbing, Forbes considers the Bucks the lowest valued NBA franchise. 30th in the Association. Dead last. Behind Memphis and New Orleans. And, thanks to Anderson Cooper and Geraldo Rivera and Brian Williams and any other reporter that could breath and operate on location, I learned last week that New Orleans is still recovering from some bad storm that hit there a while ago or something. (Did you hear any of that mentioned on the news last week?)
But the real point of this post is, the Milwaukee Bucks probably aren’t necessarily lining their pockets, and if they were hoping to stay viable inthe Milwaukee market, they were probably hoping at some point to get a little subsidy and maybe a little “fat financing” on a new arena from the good people of Milwaukee (to quote Bud Fox).
Fat chance, now. Thanks, Pittsburgh. Kudos, Jeffrey Loria. But the coffee’s probably still good in Seattle.