Forbes emailed me their annual Business of Baseball report this morning. They list the Padres as the "most profitable team" in Major League Baseball.
The most profitable team was the Padres, which had an operating income of $37 million in 2010. The team’s attendance surged by 200,000 at Petco Park as the Padres finished just two games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. The Padres managed to post a 90-72 record despite a payroll of just $38 million, which was the lowest in baseball. The Padres also benefited from a revenue-sharing check of more than $30 million.
Padres President/COO Tom Garfinkel responded to our email request for a comment with the following:
"The Forbes numbers are grossly inaccurate. It's curious how they can get financial numbers for 30 private businesses. The only answer is that they manufacture them. Our EBITDA was positive, but after interest, taxes and depreciation there was a loss. The team lost money on a cash basis in 2010."
He addressed the Forbes numbers last year in more detail in a comment on Gaslamp Ball. Here's a portion of his comment:
All of the revenues go back into the business. As the revenues grow, the payroll will also grow. The best run teams in sports are the ones who make the best decisions with the money they have for both the short-term and long-term. They are not necessarily the ones who spend the most money. Please judge us more for how we spend what we have – instead of for how much we spend (again, we spend all of the revenues we have).
In 2006 Major League Baseball said Forbes figures misstated their finances, but Forbes stood by their list.:
"They make these numbers up," Manfred said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "However close and lucky they may get in aggregate, there are individual instances that materially misstate the situations. From our perspective, we just think it's important that people understand and realize these are not in real in any sense of the word."
Forbes spokeswoman Megan Womack responded: "We stand by the list."
What do you believe?
I believe Forbes (111 votes)
I believe the Padres (65 votes)
"I just believe in me, Yoko and me." (48 votes)
224 total votes