Saddled with one of the smallest parks in Major League Baseball as well as one of the biggest payrolls, the Sox’s parent company has been forced to gin up unusual sources of revenue, beyond tickets and skybox fees. “We have to create value outside of baseball,” says Mike Dee, COO of the Sox and president of Fenway Sports Group, a sales and marketing subsidiary.
Even though the team failed to reach the World Series in 2008, the business is charging ahead. FSG has bought a 50% stake in Nascar’s biggest team; created a startup that takes fan photos for MLB, the NBA, and college teams; sells online ads for its frenemies throughout baseball (Yanks included); and does marketing consulting for companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts, which signed on last year. The ultimate home run: Nearly all of FSG’s revenue conveniently falls outside MLB’s revenue-sharing agreement. It’s an ingenious game plan that other teams have already begun following.