Braves’ quarterly revenue hits $216 million as fans return to ballpark

Fans line up to get into Truist Park before the Braves' game against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 7, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Fans line up to get into Truist Park before the Braves' game against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 7, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

The Braves brought in revenue of $216 million in the April-through-June quarter as business returned to near pre-pandemic levels, according to financial results disclosed Friday by team owner Liberty Media.

The team’s operating profit before depreciation and amortization – the most common metric, along with revenue, for assessing a pro sports franchise’s economic performance -- was $54 million for the quarter.

During the same period in 2020, when no games were played in April-June because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Braves posted only $11 million in revenue and a $26 million operating loss.

The figures for the recently completed quarter are more comparable to the same period in 2019, when the Braves had revenue of $208 million and an operating profit of $62 million.

The Braves began this season with reduced capacity at Truist Park, initially 33% and then 50%, before becoming the second MLB team to return to full capacity in early May.

“At Truist Park, fans are back in a big way,” Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei said on a conference call with investment analysts Friday. “The Braves do lead Major League Baseball in total attendance at over 1.5 million and average attendance at over 29,000 per game.”

Ticket, concession and merchandise sales “are all trending very favorably,” he said, adding: “We’re having trouble keeping jerseys in stock, a high-quality problem.”

Of the Braves’ $216 million in revenue in the second quarter, Liberty Media attributed $204 million to baseball (including stadium revenue streams and TV/radio rights) and $12 million to real-estate development in The Battery Atlanta. “Revenue growth more than offset increased operating costs as player salaries and facility and game-day expenses returned to more normalized levels in the current year,” Liberty said.

The Braves’ “financial strength” led to “reinvesting in on-field talent” at last week’s trade deadline, Maffei said. The team added slightly more than $6 million to their reduced 2021 payroll with trades for relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez and outfielders Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler in the hours leading to the deadline.

The Braves opened this season with a major-league payroll of $130.1 million, down $21.9 million from what would have been a $152 million payroll if a full season had been played in 2020. Last week’s trades, along with earlier in-season acquisitions of outfielder Joc Pederson, catcher Stephen Vogt and relief pitcher Shane Greene, increased the Braves’ current player payroll to slightly more than $140 million.

Maffei said the team “has been battling despite setbacks,” noting that it rose above a .500 record for the first time this season with an “impressive comeback” win in St. Louis on Thursday night.

Liberty Media also disclosed Friday that the Braves had $694 million in debt as of June 30, up from $676 million March 31. The increase stemmed in part from borrowing to fund ongoing construction at The Battery.

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