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Baseball Hall of Fame posts $17.1m in revenue, $3.99m in profit in 2018

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, recorded $3.99m in net profit for 2018, according to the institution’s recently field federal tax return.

Following up on all-time bests in both revenue in profit in 2017, the Hall of Fame generated $17.1m in total revenue for the year ending December 31, 2018 as its charitable contributions and grants fell from a record total of $15.2m two years ago to $8m in 2018.

US non-profit accounting guidelines call for multiyear charitable donations to be recorded in the year in which they are pledged, and not when they are actually received. So views in the Hall of Fame’s financial status can be deceiving. Still, the $8 million in charitable grants for 2018 is among the highest on record for the institution, and was fueled in part by three separate seven-figure contributions from unnamed donors. 

The baseball shrine’s annual attendance has stayed relatively static in recent years, at around 280,000. But who should be and actually is inducted each year remain among the most hotly debated topics in all of US sports. 

The Hall of Fame’s 2020 induction class will begin taking shape December 8 when the institution announces the voting results from Modern Baseball Era Committee, a panel comprising what was formerly known as the Veterans Committee and comprised of current Hall of Fame members, executives, and media members. The group is considering a group of 10 candidates, including the late former Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Marvin Miller.

That election will be followed up by voting results from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which will be announced January 21. Former New York Yankees shortstop and current Miami Marlins chief executive Derek Jeter is a lock to be elected, with the only outstanding question of whether he will receive 100 percent of the vote as his former teammate, relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, did earlier this year and became the first player unanimously elected. 

Players must receive 75 percent of the BBWAA vote to be elected to the Hall, or the same percentage from one of Era Committees that succeeded the Veterans Committee. 

Thanks to a robust series of Hall of Fame induction classes over the past half-decade, turnout for Induction Ceremonies each July has been historically high, also helping drive revenue. The 2019 Induction Ceremony, led by Rivera, drew an estimated crowd of 55,000, the second-largest such figure. The 2018 induction, led in part by popular former Detroit Tigers teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, was just behind that at 53,000, and next summer’s ceremony with Jeter, and perhaps others, is expected to be in similar territory. 

Players must wait five years after their retirement to be eligible for induction. And many hotels, bed-and-breakfast establishments, and other businesses in and around Cooperstown have been preparing for this coming summer and the expected tourist influx since Jeter’s retirement at the end of the 2014 season.

The Hall of Fame in 2018 paid president Jeff Idelson $451,571 in total compensation. Idelson earlier this year left the Hall of Fame after 25 years working there and was succeeded by former Los Angeles Angels executive Tim Mead.