It’s hard not to turn a profit running a baseball team

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Geoff Baker reports that the Mariners, despite many losses and low attendance, turned a profit last year: $5.86 million to be exact. And that they’ve been profitable just about every year since they moved into Safeco Field, save one year when profits were offset by a large investment in stadium improvements. All of this despite the fact — at times anyway — the Mariners have had pretty significant payrolls.

Two takeaways here: (1) it’s pretty hard not to turn a profit running a baseball team, it seems; and (2) it’s pretty nice when these numbers are reported.

With most teams we have no idea about how much money they’re making, but the Mariners are required to do some financial reporting as part of their stadium deal. With almost all other teams we are forced to take the representations of the owners at face value. And as history has shown us, baseball owners can and often do claim dramatic losses when it suits their purposes, even when those losses are pure fiction and/or the product of funny bookkeeping.