With few to no fans in the stands during a 60-game season, Major League Baseball teams are undoubtedly going to suffer a financial hit this year. The Padres are among the teams in line to take a beating in that regard, executive chairman Ron Fowler explained to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“People don’t want to believe we’re going to lose, cash on cash, well over $100 million. I can assure you we are,” said Fowler, who added: “We’ve already borrowed $100 million. We are looking to increase our loan availability, and we are looking to make a significant capital contribution — more money into the team.”
Despite his disappointment, Fowler stressed to Acee that he doesn’t want to come off as a whiner. He’s instead trying to look forward to a baseball season and hoping the Padres will end their 13-year playoff drought or at least finish above .500 for the first time since 2010. San Diego went just 70-92 last year, which Fowler called an “embarrassing” campaign in September. However, in the wake of an active offseason, Fowler’s optimistic about the roster general manager A.J. Preller has assembled for 2020. He told Acee, “If we catch a couple breaks, we might be looking at a wild card.”
Regardless of what happens on the field this year, though, Fowler expects to enter 2021 with concerns about teams’ financial states, including his own club’s. Because it’s unclear how many (if any) fans will be allowed to attend games then, “We are planning for restricted revenue next year and doing what is necessary to be able to operate in that environment,” Fowler said. “We will adjust accordingly. To expect we are going to return to 2019 in terms of business is not real, I don’t expect that to be the case at all.”
Of course, after the 2021 season, the owners and players could be in for a labor war centering on the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. The fact that the two sides spent the past couple months in a public spat over the 2020 campaign could signal trouble going forward. It remains to be seen whether the league and the players will get on the same page in the next year-plus. For his part, Fowler’s not thrilled with the union’s chief negotiator, Bruce Meyer. Fowler, a key member of MLB’s labor committee, said of recent talks with the MLBPA and Meyer:“They had someone new who had a different view of how things should be done. That created a number of problems. We often thought we were negotiating with ourselves, and that’s not a good thing to do.”
Although he’s dissatisfied with Meyer, Fowler’s hope is obviously that the owners and players will achieve peace in CBA negotiations. For that to happen, though, he observed: “We definitely have to do it without it being negotiated in the press. We have to make sure we are communicating with our players what’s real and what’s not.”