D-Backs future uncertain; much rides on World Series results

By Grace Conway

The Arizona Diamondbacks not only want to win the World Series, they need to win it.

The playoffs earned the Diamondbacks almost $5 million, and the World Series could generate $2.5 million to $10 million. It sounds like a lot of money, yet it’s not enough for a team that is expected to lose $24 million in revenue this year.

For a four-year-old team that has only improved since its inception, it’s hard to imagine that even with the revenue it will generate from the World Series, the Diamondbacks will be in debt.

The Diamondbacks’ financial problems are partly due to a drop in attendance. Attendance has fallen from 3.6 million in 1998 to 2.7 million in 2001.

Part of the problem facing the Diamondbacks is also due to the amount of money spent on their players. Not only do they have an $84 million payroll, about $46 million is deferred money. Nearly $120 million was spent in 1998 on six players. General managing partner Jerry Colangelo acquired free agents Greg Colbrun, Steve Finley, Randy Johnson, Armando Reynoso, Todd Stottlemyre, and Greg Swindell.

The Diamondbacks were also in debt before signing marquee players and having their attendance decrease. The stadium costs were over $100 million, and Colangelo also faced a $130 million dollar expansion fee.

Colangelo has said that he is working on the Diamondbacks’ debt, but what exactly is being done? What has happened is Colangelo has asked 10 of his marquee players to defer $150 million in guaranteed salaries. This puts the Diamondbacks debt at an estimated $200 million when combining the deferred and guaranteed salaries.

Even though Colangelo borrowed $10 million before the beginning of the season to keep the Diamondbacks going, he has said that the administrative cuts made this year and the deferred salaries are expected to help with the team’s debt.

The Diamondbacks’ financial troubles will undoubtedly cause changes for the future of this franchise, although no one knows for sure yet what those changes will be. The biggest question has to be whether this winning team will stay together? Or will the looming debt cause the Diamondbacks to dismantle their team?

Players such as Curt Schilling, Johnson, Matt Williams, and Jay Bell have no-trade clauses, but a player such as Reggie Sanders, who is a free agent at the end of the season, may not be signed again. Despite his contributions to the team this year, the Diamondbacks may not be able to afford his salary next year.

The Diamondbacks may have a winning team this year, but whether they can afford to keep their winning team together next year is still uncertain.