Braves’ latest financial results: Revenue up, slight dip in profit

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Significant moves Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos made for 2019 season

The Braves posted a 14% increase in revenue in the April-through-June quarter, compared with the same period a year ago, according to financial results released Thursday by team owner Liberty Media.

The team had revenue of $208 million in the most recently completed quarter, up from $182 million in the same three months last year.

Expenses also were up, resulting in a slight dip in quarterly profit, Liberty said.

The Braves’ operating profit before depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation was $62 million for April-June, down 3% from $64 million in the same period last year. After depreciation, amortization and stock compensation, the team’s operating profit in the quarter was $36 million, down from $37 million a year earlier.

Liberty Media attributed the Braves’ revenue increase to more home games in the second quarter of 2019 than 2018 (41 vs. 37) and higher revenue per game “primarily due to increased ticket and concession sales.”

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said on a conference call with investment analysts Thursday that the Braves’ attendance “looks good so far this season, aided by strong on-field performance.” The Braves are averaging 32,895 per game in attendance (defined by MLB as tickets sold) through 57 home games, an increase of 1,252 per game from the same point last year.

Of the Braves’ $208 million in second-quarter revenue, $198 million came from baseball and $10 million from real-estate development, Liberty disclosed. Development revenue, principally rents generated in The Battery Atlanta mixed-use development, was unchanged from the same period last year, while baseball revenue increased by $26 million.

Liberty, however, said in its quarterly report that the Braves’ operating profit “declined modestly” for April-June “as revenue growth was more than offset by elevated operating expenses driven by higher player salaries, increased costs due to the opening of the new spring training facility, scouting expenses and stadium operation costs driven by concessions.”

The Braves' major-league player payroll for this season is about $137 million after a series of personnel moves in the past two months. That is up from $130.1 million last season, a 5% increase.

The Braves continue to carry considerable debt, stemming from the construction of SunTrust Park and The Battery. The team had debt of $470 million as of June 30, down from $480 million as of March 31, Liberty disclosed.

The company also noted that the ongoing second phase of construction in The Battery “is expected to cost approximately $200 million, which the Braves and affiliated entities expect to fund through a mix of approximately $55 million in equity and approximately $145 million in debt.”

The Braves are one of the few pro sports franchises with publicly traded stock — a tracking stock Liberty Media issued in 2016 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.