Selig sees bright financial future for baseball

Updated: November 15, 2007, 3:04 PM ET
Associated Press

NAPLES, Fla. -- Baseball revenue climbed to $6.075 billion this year, and commissioner Bud Selig envisions an even rosier financial future.

"As I told the clubs today, we're on a great high here," Selig said Thursday following the conclusion of a two-day meeting in which owners discussed, among other things, ways to speed up games.

"When you look at the final numbers and you see what's happened, it's remarkable. There are times, honestly, when I have to pinch myself to make sure all of this is happening. ... Growth and revenue, growth and profitability; it's just been really, really good."

And with attendance up, and Major League Baseball also making a concerted effort to expose its product to other parts of the world, Selig is confident the game will continue the trend next season, and beyond.

"I'm putting myself on the spot here, but I'm very hopeful to draw 80 million-plus, and I think our revenues will continue to go up," Selig said of 2008, later adding that he's "very proud" of the growth.

"We started at $1.2 billion, and I can remember waking up in '93 and '94 and '95 and thinking how are we ever going to get to $2 billion? So here we are at $6 billion, 75 million. And if we just keep doing our work, stay out of controversies, keep the focus on the field, we'll get to numbers someday that will be stunning. And these are stunning."

The commissioner said there was nothing new to report on talks to have the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres play two exhibition games in Beijing in March, a recommendation that instant replay be used to help umpires with some calls, or George Mitchell's investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Selig still expects Mitchell's report to be released before the end of the year.

Owners heard a presentation on pace of games from Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

Solomon said last week during general managers meetings in Orlando that to speed up games, baseball was considering limiting when a hitter could step out of the batter's box between pitches, restricting the number of times a player could visit the mound, and limiting the number of players allowed to visit the mound.

"Obviously I have a lot of concern about the length of our World Series games, playoff games, regular-season games," Selig said. "We're going to work on that over the course of the winter."

In addition to enforcing existing rules, the commissioner said consideration will be given to adding new rules.

"We just need to speed things up a little bit for everybody's best interest," Selig said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press