LEADOFF: How Braves’ value increased $320M in one year

The Braves are MLB’s 12th most valuable franchise, according to Forbes. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton

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The Braves are MLB’s 12th most valuable franchise, according to Forbes. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, the early buzz in Atlanta sports.

The Braves' move into SunTrust Park has fueled a big jump in the value of the franchise, according to Forbes magazine's annual estimate.

Forbes, which came out Tuesday with its 20th annual valuations of MLB teams, calculated that the Braves are worth $1.5 billion — up $320 million, or 27.1 percent, from last year's estimate of $1.18 billion.

The Braves rank 12th among the 30 teams in value this year, according to Forbes.

On average, teams increased in value 19 percent from last year’s estimates, with the jumps driven by surging local TV deals in many cases.

In the Braves' case, with a long-term TV deal in place until 2027, the increase in value is attributable to the new stadium opening Friday night.

The $1.5 billion valuation, if accurate, means the Braves are worth more than three times as much as when Liberty Media bought the franchise in a complicated tax-driven transaction in 2007. That deal valued the team at $450 million.

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The Atlanta Braves welcomed Friday 21,392 fans to SunTrust Park for an exhibition game win against the New York Yankees. Video by Hyosub Shin/AJC

The Yankees are the most valuable MLB franchise again this year at $3.7 billion, followed by the Dodgers at $2.75 billion, the Red Sox at $2.7 billion, the Cubs at $2.68 billion and the Giants at $2.65 billion, according to Forbes.

The valuation of the Braves won't surprise Liberty Media executives. At an investors meeting late last year, the company's chief financial officer told the audience that it would be "not unreasonable" to value the Braves at about $1.5 billion. Forbes now agrees.

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The Hawks clinched the No. 5 seed in the NBA playoffs Tuesday night with an easy 103-76 victory over the Hornets at Philips Arena.

The Hawks, who have won four consecutive games, will play the Wizards, the No. 4 seed, in a first-round playoff series starting this weekend in Washington.

See Chris Vivlamore's story here.

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One of the more unusual aspects of the SunTrust Park project is how quickly the Braves landed a naming-rights partner.

A 25-year deal with SunTrust Banks was announced at the ground-breaking ceremony in September 2014, giving the stadium its name at a far earlier point in the process than is typical for major sports venues.

SunTrust and Braves executives recall that they realized early in discussions that their companies were aligned philosophically and then made the deliberate decision to see if a deal could be done by ground-breaking.

Click here for full story on how the stadium got its name.

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