Having sliced payroll en route to what’s likely to be a 105 loss season, there’s considerable consolation for Houston owner Jim Crane in a published report that he stands to rake nearly $100 million in profits. “That’s nearly as much as the estimated operating income of the previous six World Series championship teams — combined,” writes Forbes’ Dan Alexander. Perhaps sensitive to any suggestion it’s crazy lucrative to avoid, y’know, fielding a competitive team, newly ensconced team president / former toast of the Williamson County business community Reid Ryan tells the Houston Chronicle’s Reid Laymance that Forbes is off the mark.
While not offering a figure to counter the report, Ryan said, “We’re going to have expenses that are higher than our revenues, and that doesn’t make (the team) profitable.”
He added, “There is no doubt that the numbers are wrong in the Forbes article. If they were right, I’d look like the guy who had done the best job in three months ever (since taking the job in May). The fact is that the numbers are wrong.”
Forbes does not count the Astros’ profits (or losses this year) in its 45 percent stake in CSN Houston but notes:
“As the largest stakeholder in CSN Houston, the Astros absorbed the brunt of those losses. FORBES considers regional sports networks separate businesses and does not include their losses or gains in its operating income estimations. But even if the Astros’ roughly $23 million loss were included, they would still have an estimated operating income of $71 million, higher than any team in history.”
The network lost $63 million in its first year because of distribution problems in the Houston-area. Only 40 percent of the market can get the network, which also airs the Rockets.
Crane was not available for comment Monday. However, several hours after Ryan’s comments, the team issued a statement that it was “disappointed” by the “significant inaccuracies” in the Forbes.com story but would not disclose information on the Astros’ finances.
(THURSDAY ADDENDUM : Forbes’ Maury Brown, he of the oft-quoted around here Biz Of Baseball, picked apart Dan Alexander’s take on Houston’s TV deal, stresses, “the Astros are not the most profitable MLB club in history…they are most assuredly not even the most profitable this year…the story is not only off-base, it has to be classified as grossly inaccurate.”