How did George Steinbrenner build his Yankees empire?
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On January 3, 1973, a group led by George Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees from CBS for $8.8 million. But with his big bank account and “win at all costs” mentality, he transformed the Yankees to become a billion-dollar sports empire. Today, 50 years after that eventful day and 12 years after George’s death, the Yankees are worth $6 billion, one of the highest payrolls, and the richest team in the baseball world. Beyond the MLB, they come fourth after the Dallas Cowboys, the Golden State Warriors, and the Los Angeles Rams as the fourth most valuable sports team in the world.
George Steinbrenner ruled with an obsessive attention to detail, keeping an eye on everything from trades to the air blowers that kept his ballparks clean. By starting his own TV network and ballpark food company, George changed the franchise and sports as a whole. When The Boss died in 2010, the Yankees were worth $1.6 billion, making them the third most valuable team in the world after Manchester United ($1.8 billion) and the Dallas Cowboys ($1.65 billion).
George Steinbrenner joined the U.S. Air Force after getting his BA in English from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1952. Two years later, when he got out of the army, he worked as an assistant football coach at Ohio State University, where George Steinbrenner also got a master’s degree in physical education. He also worked as an assistant coach at Northwestern University from 1955 to 1956 and at Purdue University from 1956 to 1957.
In 1957, George Steinbrenner joined the family shipping business at the request of his father, Henry Steinbrenner, and got investors to back him. While he was still working for Kinsman Marine in 1967, Steinbrenner bought most of the stock in the American Ship Building Co. of Lorain, Ohio, and became its president. According to the Associated Press said that the company was worth $200 million at the beginning of the 1980s. Steinbrenner’s Yankees were only worth $30 million at the time.
Since George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, he was always in the news for being indifferent, being a capitalist, or spending a lot of money to fix up a small team. If he didn’t win the World Series, Steinbrenner didn’t think it was a success. He wasn’t happy with early playoff exits or unsuccessful losses.
People who were close to The Boss often tell that George Steinbrenner was caring and passionate about winning more and more world titles. He embodied the spirit of a passionate sports atmosphere. During his time in power, George Steinbrenner built an empire and inherited a lot of money. He was the face of baseball and traditional pinstripes in a fanatical state.
Steinbrenner said at his introductory press conference in 1973. “We’re not going to pretend we’re something we aren’t. I’ll stick to building ships.”
His famous quote explained what he was: “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing,” he said roughly.
The Steinbrenner family has kept and improved the Yankees’ name and brand, which is one of the best in professional sports and was vigorously guarded by George Steinbrenner. He immediately took control of the team, both on and off the field. Through 1964, the Yankees won 22 of 29 American League pennants but subsequently finished at least 15 games out of first place for seven successive years. For the first time since World War II, attendance fell below one million in 1972. CBS paid $13 million for the club in 1964, becoming the uncommon sports team owner to sell at a lesser price.
George Steinbrenner started courting free players such as Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Goose Gossage. His big moves started to change the game. The Yankees’ finances improved as they established a squad of renowned players and made World Series appearances. Attendance peaked at 2 million in 1976 and has seldom fallen below that level since, including a record 4.3 million in 2008. George Steinbrenner had been a continuous innovator, and in 1988 he negotiated a 12-year, $500 million TV agreement with MSG. The team struck a breakthrough 10-year contract with Adidas for over $100 million in 1997, which the MLB first sought to prohibit.
They started the transformation of the Yankees from a formidable baseball club and brand to a “sports and entertainment organization” in 2000. Two years later, the YES Network debuted, and although it was not the first regional sports network, it elevated the skill of being a sports broadcaster to a “higher level.” The Yankees presently control 26% of the network, and last year the club experimented with 21 games exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Amazon owns a stake in the network since 2019. While others continued to suffer, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the Yankees’ network produced an estimated $486 million in affiliate income last year. That is 56% greater than MSG Networks, the second-largest RSN.
Legends, a hospitality firm founded by the Yankees and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, debuted in 2008. Sixth Street, a private equity group, purchased a majority position in the venture two years ago for $1.35 billion. George Steinbrenner relocated the Yankees from their historic “House that Ruth Built” to a new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium in 2009. It’s known as the “House the Boss Built.” George Steinbrenner only took to the field there four times — the inaugural game in April 2009, the first two games of last year’s World Series, and the home opener this year, when Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi went to his suite and personally gave his seventh World Series ring.
The launch of the new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium generated additional cash from premium seats and sponsorships. The Yankees routinely make $150 million more in yearly income than the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball’s next-best performing organization.
George Steinbrenner helped the Yankees build the most worldwide baseball brand, with New York logoed caps available in every country. The addition of Japanese players aided the team’s establishment throughout Asia. They brought the sports to Europe, reigniting the famous Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in London.
During his ownership tenure, George Steinbrenner was often targeted by baseball executives, MLB officials, media analysts, and outsiders. He was banned twice for a total of 39 months, the first time for unlawful political donations to Richard Nixon and the second time for employing someone to dig up dirt on one of his players, Dave Winfield. To attempt to limit the Yankees’ financial advantage, the MLB enacted regulations including revenue sharing and a luxury tax. However, they were unable to halt the Yankees’ juggernaut, headed by George.
George Steinbrenner was the only Boss in baseball
Even though he became a great mentor and father figure, George Steinbrenner was also a baseball capitalist who risked millions of dollars and invented gambling to build the most powerful baseball team of all time. His creativity and drive were a big part of the Yankees’ success, which led to 27 championships, 40 American League pennants, and more championships than any other team in the history of professional sports in North America.
But George Steinbrenner made headlines for frequently hiring and firing managers, a bombastic pattern that wreaked havoc on his managerial staff and players who had face-to-face feuds, causing them to lose respect for the guy known as the Boss. His character exemplified a furious competitor who anticipated winning a pennant after investing in great players.
George Steinbrenner was adored for his warmhearted selflessness while being a polarizing businessman since he was the greatest owner in the history of baseball, if not sports. The Boss was loved for his charity work, his players’ loyalty, and the way he took care of his players. However, George Steinbrenner was always disliked because of his controversial behavior and verbal fights with managers and players.
The Steinbrenner family is baseball’s longest-serving ownership group, with the Philadelphia Phillies’ group coming in second at 41 years. Yankees Global Enterprises now includes the baseball franchise, YES, and Legends holdings, a 20% ownership in New York City FC, and a slew of additional investments. The most recent is a 10% stake in AC Milan, which RedBird Capital purchased for $1.3 billion last year.
“It was one man’s force of personality and vision and commitment to restoring the Yankees’ greatness, and it worked,” Yankees president Randy Levine said. “I think George Steinbrenner is the greatest owner in the history of sports.”
Despite all of this, George Steinbrenner never let the Yankees’ tradition dwindle or crumble. Rather, The Boss went on to improve it, expand it, and make it a major force. He set up Yes Network, which turned to be a milestone in promoting the pinstripes.
While marketing and producing a large payroll, George Steinbrenner offered millions to form an unprecedented team. His platform recruited and promoted Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who not only the Yankees fans but all across the baseball world love and respect. He put money to grow the Yankees, muscling the team to become title earners while constantly renovating an unfinished franchise.
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