Braves lay off 'dozens’ of employees

Cardboard cutouts of fans in the otherwise empty seats face the field during the sixth inning of a baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays, Thursday, July 30, 2020 in Atlanta. The cutouts were made from photos submitted by Braves fans for the privilege of having their likeness in the seats.(AP Photo/John Amis)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Braves cut numerous employees from their baseball operations and business departments Tuesday, continuing a trend in Major League Baseball amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Braves’ layoffs involved “dozens” of full-time employees across a wide range of jobs, a team official told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Affected employees who have contracts were informed that their contracts won’t be renewed when they expire, the official said, and affected non-contract employees were told that their last day of work will be Oct. 1.

Jobs were lost across much of the Braves organization, including in such baseball roles as scouting, player development and minor-league operations. Jobs on the business and real-estate development sides of the organization also were lost.

“The Atlanta Braves have completed a reorganization of full-time staff," the team said in a statement. "... We believe now is the right time to manage our business with greater efficiency which has been accelerated due to the significant financial impact of COVID-19.

"We are grateful to those affected for their time spent with the Braves and believe, although it was a difficult decision, we are now optimized to manage through this period.”

The Braves will cover the cost of health insurance for affected employees through the end of the year, a team official said.

The job cuts came five weeks after Braves owner Liberty Media disclosed that the team’s revenue plunged 95% in the April-through-June quarter, falling to $11 million from $208 million in the same period last year. The Braves posted an operating loss before amortization and depreciation of $26 million for the quarter, compared with a profit of $62 million in the same period last year.

The Braves earlier this year took other steps to reduce costs, with all employees making more than $50,000 per year — including those in baseball operations and across the front office — having their pay reduced.

“It’s a situation that a lot of organizations are facing, and anybody who is in the live sports or entertainment business is certainly impacted significantly during COVID," Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller told the AJC last month. "And we were no different.

“When we can’t have fans (at games), and with all the other impacts COVID brings, it creates a very difficult financial situation for us.”

Although the delayed season began July 24, many revenue streams — ticket sales, concessions, parking, etc. — remain shut off as no fans are being allowed in stadiums.

Liberty Media divides the Braves' revenue into two categories — that from baseball and that from real estate development in mixed-use complex The Battery Atlanta. In the April-through-June quarter, baseball revenue plummeted 97%, falling from $198 million in the same period last year to $5 million. Development revenue tumbled 40%, from $10 million to $6 million. The drop in development revenue was primarily driven by the deferral of rental income for some tenants at The Battery.

Furloughs and layoffs have been widespread in baseball during the pandemic. MLB suspended operations in March before starting the long-delayed season in July.