How long will Liberty Media own the Braves?

Three questions from an interesting week of news about the business of the Braves:

1. How long will Liberty Media own the team?

While saying in an interview at Turner Field on Thursday that Liberty Media is “happy owners” with no current plan to sell the Braves, Liberty CEO Greg Maffei also acknowledged that it wouldn’t be in the company’s nature to own the team forever. “Liberty has been a company that has tended to move through assets,” Maffei said. “It wouldn’t be forever. Here we are nine years later (since buying the Braves). I don’t know when that’s going to be. It could be another nine years. But someday I suspect the Braves will be out on their own.” Asked if Liberty will still own the team when SunTrust Park opens next year, Maffei said: “I would think that’s pretty much assured. We’ll own it the day the stadium opens. Absolutely.” Click here for full story.

2. When will the Braves’ payroll rise?

Braves executives outlined their strategy for future player payrolls in a meeting with Wall Street analysts Thursday, saying the team will “hit the accelerator” on spending at “the proper time” in its development. “We are at the low end of the (payroll) spectrum at the moment,” Braves CEO Terry McGuirk said. “We are not afraid at all to go to where it takes to be a championship team. … When the proper time comes and the revenue opportunities have presented themselves, we will try to match up those two things. We’re not going to get out of sync and out of sequence with that.” John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, said the organization has created financial flexibility while rebuilding the farm system, “realizing that at some point we will have to depend on the free-agent market. We can’t fix it all within the house.” Click here for full story.

3. What’s going on with the Braves’ stock price?

The tracking stock for Liberty Braves Group lost ground again Friday, falling more than 3 percent for the day. The Series A shares (symbol BATRA on Nasdaq) closed the week at $17.78. On Monday, the shares debuted with a lofty opening price of $36 — some buyers somewhere are regretting those trades — before plunging almost immediately. Click here for full story with comments from Braves fans/investors.

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