S&P Document Gives Rare Look at NY Yankees Finances

The New York Yankees might have gotten hammered for overpricing their seats in their new stadium last season, as the pictures of the empty plush seats behind home plate became commonplace.

Yankee Stadium
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Yankee Stadium

But in the end, it appears like the champions got the last laugh.

A revised bond rating issued by Standard & Poor’s today provides an in-depth look at the New York Yankees’ 2009 revenues and it reveals that the champions grossed $397 million in ticket revenue, including $72 million on the postseason alone.

The Yankees are now earning a great deal more than they did just a few years back.

Previous documents from the bond financing revealed that the Yankees earned just $52 million in ticket and suite revenues in 1997. By 2005, ticket and suite revenue had reached $157 million. By the time the team had financed the bonds in 2007, projections for ticket and suite revenue for the first full season in Yankee Stadium was $253 million.

Despite the economic challenges, the Yankees beat that target by a whopping 56.9 percent, thanks in part to winning their 27th title last season.

It’s unknown exactly how much the team profited due a variety of line items, which are not public, including how much they were required to pay in revenue sharing, but industry insiders tell CNBC that the Yankees' total business now approaches $600 million in annual revenues. On the expense side, the Yankees did have a payroll of $206 million and got hit with a $25.6 million luxury tax.

Things could have been better for the Yankees last season if the recession didn't happen. The S&P report reveals that the Yankees average ticket price in 2009 turned out to be $89, $20 short of projections, as the team lowered ticket prices on premium seats a month into the season when sales were off target.

The Yankees drew 3.67 million fans last year, their first year in the new stadium, after drawing four million fans for four straight seasons. The report stated that team officials project a three percent attendance increase this season.

In fact, a baseball insider told CNBC that the Yankees will have sold almost as many seats as they did all of last season by the all-star break.

The revised outlook for the bonds is obviously good news for the team, whose crosstown rivals, the New York Mets, saw their stadium bonds used to finance CitiField downgraded to junk status by the S&P in February.