Braves’ poor start reaches Liberty Media stockholder meeting

The Braves’ 0-5 start this season didn’t go unnoticed at a special meeting of team owner Liberty Media’s stockholders Monday afternoon.

“It’ll be awhile,” Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said to laughter upon being asked when the Braves will win their first game of the season. “Listen, we’re rebuilding.”

The purpose of the meeting – held in Englewood, Colo., and broadcast on Liberty’s website — was for stockholders to vote on the company’s proposal to issue three new tracking stocks, including one tied to the Braves. The proposal was approved, and the Braves stock is expected to begin trading soon on the Nasdaq exchange.

Beyond noting that the Braves are rebuilding, Malone offered no diagnosis of the team’s on-field problems, saying its management can “make its excuses for the poor starting performance of the team.”

When a meeting attendee said he saw Braves CEO Terry McGuirk on TV at The Masters, Malone joked: “Well, so you know where his focus is.”

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Malone also was asked what he thinks of Forbes magazine’s recent valuation of the Braves at $1.18 billion.

“I don’t have a clue,” he replied. “We’ll see shortly (when the Braves stock begins trading). We’ll see what the market puts on it and decide how efficient our monetization thesis is.

“Now, keep in mind the Braves now are a fairly major real-estate business as opposed to just a baseball club.”

He was referring to the mixed-use development, The Battery Atlanta, being built alongside the team’s Cobb County stadium, SunTrust Park. Both the stadium and the development are slated to open next year.

“I personally think that these are good real-estate assets, not just for the team but just as a broad development project,” Malone said. “It does give the team more heft. It gives the vision more heft than just the club itself.”

Malone also spoke highly of the Braves’ 1/30th share of Major League Baseball’s digital business, MLB Advanced Media.

“I think it’s worth a whole bunch,” he said. “They’ve done a very good job of building that. Our indirect part in that is, I think, an attractive asset.”

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