Liberty Media reveals Braves’ financial results; revenue up 70% in quarter

The Braves capped their first season at SunTrust Park by posting a 70-percent increase in revenue during the July-through-September quarter, according to financial results disclosed Thursday by team owner Liberty Media. 

The Braves’ revenue for the quarter was $185 million, up from $109 million in the same period the previous year, Liberty said in its third-quarter financial report. 

The increase “was primarily ... driven by the Braves’ move to their new ballpark,” the team’s Colorado-based owner said. “Ticket sales, concessions, corporate sales, suites and premium-seat fees all increased during the third quarter.” 

SunTrust Park "is living up to its potential,” said Greg Maffei, Liberty Media’s president and CEO.

A larger number of home games in the quarter (41) than in the same period the year before at Turner Field (35) also contributed to the revenue increase.

The Braves brought in revenue of $5 million in this year’s first quarter and $176 million in the second quarter, according to previous filings by Liberty. The third-quarter result brings the Braves’ revenue for the year to $366 million through Sept. 30, up 50 percent from $244 million in the first nine months of last year.  

Expenses also have risen, but Liberty said the Braves’ operating profit before depreciation and amortization – a key measure of a pro sports franchise’s economic performance -- soared to $48 million in the July-through-September quarter, up from $16 million in the same period in 2016. Those figures exclude executives’ stock-based compensation. 

After factoring in depreciation and amortization ($24 million, up from $12 million in the same period last year) and stock-based compensation ($33 million, up from $2 million), the Braves showed a $9 million loss for the third quarter, Liberty said. 

The jump in stock compensation was “due to an increase in the estimated value of the Braves, combined with the continued vesting of outstanding awards,” Liberty said.

The company didn’t specify which executives received stock compensation.

While SunTrust Park and the adjacent mixed-use development, The Battery Atlanta, are driving the Braves’ revenue and franchise value higher, the organization has taken on considerable debt for construction.

Liberty Media Chief Financial Officer Mark Carleton said Thursday that the Braves carried debt of $585 million as of Sept. 30. That is an increase of $74 million since June 30, which Liberty said was “primarily a result of additional borrowings for funding the ballpark and mixed-use development.”

As of Sept. 30, approximately $718 million had been spent on the stadium, “of which approximately $390 million was provided by Cobb County and related entities and $328 million provided by the Braves,” Liberty said.

In addition, approximately $398 million had been spent on The Battery, with the Braves responsible for $364 million and joint-venture partners responsible for the rest.

The Braves are one of the world’s few pro sports franchises with publicly traded stock -- a tracking stock Liberty issued last year to allow investors to buy and sell shares in the team separate from the rest of the company. That requires the quarterly disclosure of financial information that other teams tend to keep secret.

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