The Cardinals have agreed to a new, 15-year contract that will continue to give FOX Sports Midwest exclusive rights to broadcast their games, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The rights alone will guarantee the Cardinals more than $1 billion, according to Goold, who adds that the Cardinals will also receive a minority stake in the network that will add further revenue on top of that sum.
The new contract will span the 2018-33 seasons, according to Goold, so it won’t kick in for another few years just yet. However, the Cardinals will, on average, receive more than double the annual amount they’re earning on their current deal over the life of the new contract. As Goold reports, the Cardinals will profit $35MM from their current TV deal in its final season (2017), but the rights fees alone will provide the team with $55MM in revenue in 2018 (to say nothing of the equity stake). That sum will continue to escalate in each year of the contract, he continues. Goold spoke to Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. about the agreement, who confirmed the deal but did not cite specifics.
“This does give us a great deal of stability over the next 15 years and does so in a market that has been shifting,” said DeWitt. “It has a nice increase in rights fees as well as the equity component and as a whole it will allow us to remain as competitive as we have been with our payroll, with our spending in the international markets, with our activity in amateur markets and other ways we have invested in development. We have certainty going forward.”
The Cardinals haven’t exactly been a team with limited spending capacity in recent seasons anyhow — they’ve averaged a $114.19MM Opening Day payroll over the past five seasons, per Cot’s Contracts — but the new television contract will allow them greater spending capacity on their roster and international signings if the team wishes. Goold writes that the deal gives them room to stretch the payroll for “the addition of at least one core player” and could make contract extensions for rising stars Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal more feasible. (I’d add Kolten Wong’s name to that mix as well.)
The Cardinals become the second mid-market franchise to sign a contract worth $1 billion or more this season, as the Diamondbacks inked a $1.5 billion deal back in February. Of course, the Phoenix market is notably larger than the St. Louis market, and Goold notes the discrepancy, pointing out that the D-Backs play in the 11th-largest market in baseball, while the Cardinals are in the 21st-largest.
Suffice it to say, while the Cardinals could augment their short-term roster in the coming 48 hours, a 15-year television contract that will immediately increase yearly revenue by as much as $20MM beginning in 2018 is far more impactful news for the team’s future. An official announcement of the deal is expected to come this morning, according to Goold.