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Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Despite being linked to MLB's billion-dollar ball clubs, minor league baseball teams are essentially just small businesses — and like most other small businesses right now, the coronavirus pandemic has put their future in jeopardy.

By the numbers: MLB's gross revenue in 2019 was $10.7 billion, 50% of which came from media rights deals. The minor leagues, by comparison, have an entirely different model, relying much more heavily on ticket sales and the in-stadium experience.

$864 million: Minor league baseball grossed $864 million across its 160 clubs last year. That's $5.4 million per team, and a staggering 89% of that is used to pay operating expenses, according to data provided to Axios by the minor leagues.

  • $70,000 x 70 games: Minor league teams gross $70,000 per home game, which comprises over 90% of their annual revenue.
  • 15.6% reduction: With roughly 12 home games each month, teams lose 15.6% of their annual revenue with each month of lost games.
  • 3,400 full-time jobs: 160 teams, each with an average of 21 non-playing or coaching staff (whose wages are paid by their MLB club), means nearly 3,400 full-time jobs are at risk, plus another 32,000 part-time seasonal employees.

What they're saying: Add all that up, and you can understand why MLB's proposal of playing without fans isn't a viable option for the minors, where an extra rainout can be the difference between being in the black and being in the red.

"Our entire business model is people coming to our stadium. The concept of even playing a game in our stadium with no people is so far outside of our business model that it almost seems like a wasted effort to even ponder it."
— Scott Hunsicker, GM of the Reading Fightin Phils, via WSJ

The backdrop: Long before coronavirus arrived, MLB proposed cutting 25% of minor league clubs as part of a massive restructuring plan. So it's safe to say these two parties didn't have the best working relationship at the time this crisis struck.

The bottom line: The way minor league clubs operate as small businesses is one of the many charming aspects of professional baseball in this country. But if they're left to fend for themselves, the whole system is in danger of collapsing.

Go deeper: Baseball's uncertain future

Go deeper

Oct 1, 2021 - Health

Louisiana health system to charge employees with unvaccinated partners

Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The largest health care system in Louisiana will charge its employees $200 a month if a spouse or domestic partner covered under its health plan is not vaccinated against the coronavirus, NOLA reports.

Why it matters: The new rule, which will take effect in 2022, comes as the vast majority of coronavirus patients who end up hospitalized are unvaccinated.

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. to mandate vaccines for anyone who crosses borders starting in January — Shots lagged data by months — The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort.
  2. Health: The Thanksgiving bouncers — Axios-Ipsos poll: Thanksgiving roulette — Experts criticize CDC's language on vaccine boosters — America's Thanksgiving gamble.
  3. Politics: Biden administration asks appeals court to reinstate vaccine mandate — Michigan recommends face masks for all residents amid surge.
  4. Education: A COVID strategy backfires at schools — Schools across the U.S. offer vaccine drivesBenefits of in-person school outweigh risks, study finds.
  5. World: EU drug regulator recommends Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids — Italy announces new COVID restrictions for unvaccinated people — European health agency urges expanding booster shot access.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Newsom orders COVID-19 vaccine mandate for California students

Students attending school in L.A. Unified School District. Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Friday that all eligible public and private school students will be mandated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, once it has been given final approval from the FDA.

Why it matters: This is the first K-12 COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Los Angeles Times reports.