Whether it’s Baseball or Business, it’s All About the Numbers

Take me out to the ballgame; take me out to the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks; I don’t care if I ever get back.

What a beautiful stanza to a gorgeous song that represents all that is right with this world. Baseball. The greatest game ever played, especially if you are in business.

I can already see the bevy of comments that will hit me on this post about my obsession, and specifically why I chose to write an article like this at this time, so at least I’m prepared. Yes, I just attended an entire series at Safeco Field in Seattle, though for the sake of my current city popularity, I will decline to admit my favorite team. The first comment to guess correctly wins a prize that will be revealed at the end of this post.

While attending these baseball games, one cannot avoid being smacked in the face at a seemingly constant stream of statistics. “In June 2010, Felix Hernandez won the American League Pitcher of the Month Award for his flawless portrayal of Felix the Cat in the local theater’s rendition of Rent 3D: Alley Cat. This was his 5th AL PoM Award in 6 possible months.” Obviously that means he had a good year. You know he did well because NUMBERS DON’T LIE, at least not like your Uncle Herbert.

So what? Who cares that I can make up odd baseball and pop culture connections? Here’s why: it’s all about the numbers. If you need to know how many baseballs you need to sell in order to keep your store open, you must rely on the numbers. Take a look at this – did you know that the average operating budget for a Major League team was $84 million dollars in 2009? The Seattle Mariners’ budget was at $98 million. Their average ticket price was $30. So how many seats did they need to sell to cover their expenses? Knowing they play 82 home games, the equation becomes simple:

(# of tickets sold x $30) x 82 games = ticket income If ticket income had to match operating expenses, the equation would look like this: 98,000,000 / 82 = 1,195,122 (income needed per game) / 30 = 39,837 (seats that must be filled)

Safeco Field has a seating capacity of 47,878 for baseball games. That means Safeco would have to be at least 83% full each home game to make budget. In 2009 (according to ESPN), Seattle averaged 27,116 tickets sold per game. Going back to the original equation, that means Seattle pulled in $66,705,360 in ticket income in 2009. Put that into the next equation: income – expenses = profit. $66,705,360 – $98,000,000 = $-31,294,640

OUCH! It’s a good thing they have other ways of generating income. Do you? Do you know what your income needs are and where they are coming from? The moral of the story is this: numbers are cold, hard, and factual. They will tell you the real story of your business in a way that would make J.K. Rowling look like your Uncle Herbert. Use them, do not be afraid of them, hate them, but above all trust them. The best businesses know it’s all about the numbers.

And, by the way, the prize is a cup of coffee and a pleasant conversation.

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