Every now and then we'll offer a lunch-time gathering of news and links related to sports business:
Let's start first with what is easily the most important sports business story you'll read this year. Patrick Hruby -- a rare writer equally adept at humor and narrative and analysis -- turned his attention to our government's penchant for giving handouts to sports owners for Sports on Earth. His point being that reducing these costs would go some of the way toward edging the country away from the fiscal cliff you may have heard about.
Yes, this work is built off the intense study of this subject by people like Neil deMause and Joanna Cagan, authors of the book "Field of Schemes." And it relies on theories formed by the terrific Dave Zirin, sports editor of The National and author of "Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining The Games We Love." But this summary of all the ways billionaire owners bully taxpayers into picking up their tab is a must-read for anyone who cares about sports. Dennis Coates, the economist from UMBC, is quoted heavily. The building of Baltimore's football stadium doesn't come up, but Tom Scocca of Deadspin examined the issue with alacrity for Deadspin earlier this year. And of course former Baltimore Sun reporter and editor Jon Morgan's book "Glory for Sale" covers the subject in remarkable depth and is a seminal work in the field.
Whenever a story like this manages to butt its way into the mainstream, I wonder how fans are going to react. Obviously, we love our teams and often make a very conscious decision to sustain them by buying tickets and merchandise. And it's popular to lament how much pro athletes make while chalking it up to market forces. This story is a reminder, though, that we're paying for pro sports in ways we don't realize -- in ways that may detract from our schools and rec centers -- and, in doing so, have created an unrealistic market where owners, freed of paying so many operating costs, offer escalating salaries because nothing pays like winning.
There were a couple of significant sports business stories to pop up over the weekend, in case you missed them:
Colleague Yvonne Wenger wrote about the 10-year-deal reached between horsemen and owners of the state's tracks on Friday. All involved believe the new revenue sharing agreement will convince trainers and breeders to invest in Maryland racing, which has been bolstered by slots revenue but troubled by uncertainty because Laurel and Pimlico have struggled to make money. I had previously written about the efforts to come to a more equitable deal.
Scott Dance reported the news that Pennsylvania-based SMG has been selected to retain the operating rights for Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena (pending board of estimates approval on Wednesday.) SMG will also have the rights to sell the naming rights, stoking a disagreement between Ed Hale -- who has been paying $75,000 a year to have it named after the bank he built -- and the city.
Finally, sports columnist Peter Schmuck delivers the next story in the ongoing Nationals-Orioles fued over television rights money. The Orioles' stance, of course, has not changed: owner Peter Angelos feels he has a valid contract in place and wants it enforced. The end. That's where things stood the last time I wrote about the issue. And it's also where things stood in the middle of July.