The Braves’ Dansby Swanson (left) and Jace Peterson make their way into the clubhouse past a wall of Braves history at spring training in Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Braves post operating loss despite revenue gain, owner says

Braves owner Liberty Media disclosed the team’s financial results for 2016 today, showing an increase in revenue but an operating loss.

Liberty said the Braves brought in revenue of $262 million for the year, up $19 million from the previous year.

But the company said the Braves’ operating income before depreciation and amortization fell $23 million, from a profit of $3 million in 2015 to a loss of $20 million for 2016.

Liberty Media said the revenue increase “was primarily due to a change in the structure of the Braves’ ballpark retail and concession operations and increased broadcast revenue.” The company noted that the Braves brought retail operations in-house and changed concession operators.

On the other hand, Liberty said the decline in operating income before depreciation and amortization — the most common measure of a pro sports franchise’s economic performance — was “primarily due to the acceleration of player salary expense as a result of released or injured players, as well as certain penalties imposed on the Braves under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement related to certain international player signing bonuses paid during 2016 and increased operating expenses due to the aforementioned change to the Braves’ ballpark retail and concession operations.”

After tacking on depreciation and amortization expenses of $32 million and stock-based compensation of $9 million, the Braves’ operating loss became $61 million for the year, Liberty said.

In a news release today announcing the financial results for the Braves and the company’s other businesses, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei sounded this optimistic note about the baseball team: “The sod goes in this week at SunTrust Park, and we look forward to the Braves’ opening day (there) on April 14th.”

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