TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: It’s not quite spring but Major League Baseball teams are in the midst of spring training. But this isn’t just a time for players to work out the winter rust. There’s lots of business decisions that are made. A big one is happening for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who plan to move their training camp from Vero Beach, Florida to Glendale, Arizona in 2009. David Carter is the Executive Director of the USC Sports Business Institute. I asked him about the financial benefits for the Dodgers with this move.
DAVID CARTER: Well the Dodgers I think see it a couple of different ways. They’re going to be sharing this new complex in Glendale, Arizona which opens in 2009 with the Chicago White Sox. I think there are several things that are really in it for them. First of all there will be real estate development opportunities around that stadium they’re going to be able to generate some cash from. And I think also because it’s a state-of-the-art stadium, you’re going to have the opportunity for them to sell more merchandise, for them to sell more tickets, and again you’re going to have a much more fan-friendly experience. And also I think what’s important this time around is the Dodgers are gonna have a chance to utilize this facility year-round. They’re gonna be the ones that are gonna be booking it. They’re gonna be the ones that are taking some of the financial risk involved and they’re the ones that are gonna be keeping the financial rewards whether those new events year-round are concerts or other sporting events. So I think there are some really unique elements to this for them.
THOMAS: Now this real estate opportunity, these commercial ventures, is this something new that the Dodgers are involved with? Are other baseball teams doing similar things?
CARTER: I think, not just in spring training and not just in baseball, but I think throughout sports, you’re seeing these team owners and these franchises saying, ‘hey we need a great backdrop to entertain our sponsors, we need a great hook to make sure our season ticket holders have a great fan experience, so why not invite them to spring training?’ I think the teams understand that these new complexes really give them a chance to conduct business development. And so no longer is it just a place to hold a ballgame, but it’s a place to build you brand and make a little money along the way.
THOMAS: A lot of people may have never heard of Glendale, Arizona. What makes it such a great draw?
CARTER: Well I don’t think this is really about Glendale, Arizona so much. I mean certainly there has been a lot of sports building out in that neck of the woods, but it’s the Cactus League that’s been thriving and over the course of the last decade or so, a number of Major League Baseball teams that have been calling Arizona home and the Cactus League home has grown dramatically, from 8 to 14 teams, so there’s been a real expansion in the Cactus League and I think that Arizona and Glendale in particular has been taking real advantage of that.
THOMAS: David Carter is executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute.