Larry Lucchino may have dubbed the New York Yankees "the evil empire" a few years back, but the inequalities between the two teams aren't as great as they once were. In fact, since the Henry/Lucchino/Werner group came aboard in 2001, they've done more than alright. While everyone knows they won the World Series in 2004, they've also sold out every game since May 15, 2003. More impressively, according the Forbes magazine the value of the team alone has doubled since 2002. You'd think that with this success the team would be ok. But with the luxury tax forcing the big market teams to give away chunks of money to the smaller teams, they've needed to look outside the box in order to further grow their empire.
And with that the Fenway Sports Group was founded. FSG's mandate was to look for new business opportunities throughout the worlds of sports and entertainment.
"Baseball's always going to be our core business, but it's a mature business. It's going to be harder to squeeze more juice from the orange," said Mike Dee, who has a dual role as the Red Sox chief operating officer and the president of Fenway Sports Group. "I tell people, 'I spend 80 percent of my time with the Red Sox, and the other 80 percent of my time with the Fenway Sports Group."'It begain with FanFoto, which sent photographers into the stands at Fenway who later sold the photos online. It's been expanded into nine other major league parks, and was recently sold at a profit. Other clients include Boston College, as well as the Bruins and Celtics. Its biggest splash thus far has to be its jump into NASCAR, when it acquired half of Roush Racing.
"With revenue sharing, we were looking at trying to draw revenue from other areas that are untaxed. We really had to leave the sport of baseball to do that," Henry said this summer after unveiling a baseball-themed NASCAR entry at Fenway Park. "We've sold out about everything we can sell here. But we have tremendously creative people looking for additional challenges."The Red Sox are onto something smart here. Not only have they seemingly conquered the baseball world, but they're looking outwards in the search of new business opportunities. Perhaps this business-minded POV is the fundamental difference between teams that win and those that don't. The Red Sox are a business, not a personal vanity project. And with that sound footing they've been able to win. Like the Yankees the Red Sox have been able to smartly maximize their business opportunities by leveraging their brand-name to the fullest. So perhaps the next time you're cursing the Yankees or Red Sox you shouldn't call them the "evil-empire," but instead the smart-empire."