First-Place Yankees Aren’t Faring Nearly as Well at the Ticket Office

So perhaps it is no surprise that Steinbrenner wants the Yankees’ payroll to dip below next season’s $197 million luxury-tax threshold.

It would be the first time since the tax was instituted in 2003 that the Yankees would be below the threshold and it would come just in time to avoid the onerous penalties for repeat offenders that will kick in next season. Still, Steinbrenner maintained that the decline in ticket and suite revenues had nothing to do with his payroll objective.

“We’re not afraid to spend money,” he said.

Indeed, as much as Steinbrenner is preaching more responsible spending, he would not rule out again blowing past the luxury-tax threshold if the situation calls for it — as he said it did after the 2013 season, when the Yankees committed more than $450 million in a free-agent spending binge.

“Every year is different,” Steinbrenner said. “I wish I could kind of sum up my overall philosophy, but I tend to roll with the times and really take a look at the team every year and what we need.’’

It does help Steinbrenner’s payroll quest that the Yankees have two substantial salaries coming off the books at the end of this season — with pitcher C. C. Sabathia ($25 million) and the released, and now retired, slugger Alex Rodriguez ($21 million) in the last year of their lengthy deals. Both players are relics of the Yankees’ last championship.

It also helps over all that the Yankees have been at the fore in building a broad reservoir of income streams that can be used to help underwrite club expenses, a business strategy that the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, other teams with strong national brands, have begun to emulate.

For the Yankees, business interests include Legends, the sports concessions and marketing company founded with the Dallas Cowboys that recently won the concessions…

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