Baseball

Rogers wants costs for Jays 'under control'

Rogers Communications Inc., says it's committed to the Toronto Blue Jays and that the baseball club's costs can be controlled, as trade speculation hovers over Roy Halladay and his teammates.

Rogers Communications Inc., says it's committed to the Toronto Blue Jays and that the baseball club's costs can be controlled, as trade speculation hovers over Roy Halladay and his teammates.

Rogers Media president Tony Viner, discussing the team during a rare interview with the media, told The Canadian Press that interim CEO Paul Beeston and general manager J.P. Ricciardi have the approval of ownership to do what they think makes the most sense for the team.

Viner said there was no economic imperative to deal the staff ace.

"The Blue Jays are committed to winning," said Viner, who runs the division of Rogers Communications Inc., responsible for the club. "There is no pressure whatsoever for them to reduce payroll."

Viner said the Blue Jays were the only company within Rogers Media to show a bottom-line improvement over the past year, and that comes despite a decline in attendance.

"I'm not going to kid you, we're not going to break even this year but the fact is, the Jays are one part of my portfolio where they are financially better this year than they were last," he said. "Read that to be that our losses will be much reduced, year over year."

The Blue Jays have drawn 1,238,569 fans through 52 dates for an average of 23,819, compared to 1,438,408 fans for an average of 27,662 at the same point last year.

"We sort of stopped free ticket giveaways and our actual revenue per ticket has risen sharply this year," said Viner. "We're going to beat our budget and that's with the existing player payroll.

"That's with the combination of reducing expenses, especially on the business side, and getting more revenue in."

Unsaid is that the Blue Jays also reduced their payroll from about $95 million US to somewhere in the $81-million US range this year, although they have increased spending on scouting and player development.

The New York Yankees' payroll is just over $200 million, while the Boston Red Sox are at $123 million.

While the talk was of maintaining costs, Viner wouldn't hazard a prediction about the team's payroll next season.

"If we had the opportunity to improve the team, we would improve the team, especially if we felt it was going to drive our revenues," said Viner. "What we're going to try and do is raise revenues to be in line [with spending] and we think we can do that and we think we've taken the right steps, and we'll be even more aggressive on that front."

Viner said that the club is close to identifying a successor to Beeston.

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