Nolan Ryan says hope for baseball teams in the recession

Nolan Ryan says hope for baseball teams in the recession

This wasn’t his Hall of Fame induction ceremony but nevertheless Nolan Ryan entered the banquet room at the InterContinental Dallas hotel on Thursday morning to loud applause.

Ryan took the stage after the lunch session and answered questions ranging from his baseball-playing days to his recent involvement in the purchase of the Texas Rangers. He also spoke about how the down economy was affecting the way owners run their baseball teams.

Every team is run differently, but it’s possible to make a profit in the current market, he said.

“If (the teams) are run properly and they’re competitive on the field, then they can be profitable,” Ryan said.

He said he didn’t know if the recession forced some owners to sell their teams, but said there are many different motives beside the economy that drive the sale of teams.

Ryan said the Rangers have not been without their share of financial restrictions. One of the most recent restrictions on the Rangers came after the 2009 Major League Draft when the team failed to sign left-handed pitcher Matt Purke out of high school because of the team’s finances.

Ryan said he looks forward to watching Purke, a freshman, while he plays at TCU.

Ryan said he doesn’t think the economy will force a salary cap. The current MLB salary rules actually help teams that don’t have as high of payrolls, he said. According to MLB rules, teams that exceed payroll limitations for a particular season must pay a penalty that is then divided up among the teams who finish in the bottom five of TV ratings.

Elanie Cole, public relations manager for the Neeley School of Business, said Ryan’s presence helped set a new attendance record for events hosted by the TCU Business Network of Dallas. She said 315 people showed up at the Intercontinental Dallas to listen to Ryan speak.

O. Homer Erekson, dean of the Neeley School of Business, said he was impressed with the turnout.

“TCU has networks all over the place, but really Dallas is one of the best places,” Erekson said. “The turnout for this shows it was real.”

Erekson said that people enjoyed hearing Ryan’s stories about baseball and that he brought a unique perspective on the business side of the sport.

“If you listened behind (his speech) he really talked about the business of baseball (and) the kinds of…decisions he has to make as an owner,” Erekson said. “(Ryan talked) about the different challenges people face in the industry.”

Bob Lilly Jr., 1986 graduate and son of TCU alumnus and pro-football Hall of Fame player Bob Lilly, said he was happy that Ryan was able to give a speech and talk about his experiences.

“He’s incredible, just a class act,” Lilly said. “(I’m) grateful for his affiliation with TCU and excited about what he’s going to do with the Rangers.”

Ryan said he thinks the Rangers are ready to compete but changes could be made in the near future to improve the ball park.

“I think we’ll spend this year trying to decide what we might need to do as far the stadium is concerned to help improve the fan experience,” Ryan said. “I feel like we’re headed in the right direction with the ball club, and we plan on staying on course.”