Liberty Media CEO: Braves have ‘more upside’ in new stadium

The chief executive of Braves owner Liberty Media took note of the team’s improved play at an investment conference in New York Thursday and predicted “more upside” when it moves to SunTrust Park next year.

“We have a young team, not invested a lot, opportunity to improve it, and (are) excited about where we can go with the team,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said. “I think there’s more upside when we bring the new stadium on-line, when we complete The Battery, the retail/mixed-use development that we have next door to the stadium.”

Braves officials have said they plan to increase the player payroll an undisclosed amount next season.

Maffei noted the Braves’ on-field performance has been “much improved” since the All-Star break, pointing out the team entered Wednesday’s play with “the highest batting average in major-league baseball” since the break at .280.

Maffei also mentioned another statistic at the Goldman Sachs conference – that Liberty Media’s Braves tracking stock (BATRA) has traded recently above $17 per share on Nasdaq, up from a low of $14.23 in April.

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“I think the catalysts of value there are, first, we have the new stadium opening,” he said. “We will have incremental revenue streams coming out of that from better luxury suites, a lot of ancillary services like parking and restaurants that we don’t get at Turner (Field). So I think we’ll get a nice bump on revenues there.”

Longer term – “and this is quite long term” – Maffei said the Braves will get another boost when its “low-revenue-to-us TV rates” inherited from previous owner Time Warner expire in 2027.

“The reality is on-field performance has some correlation with market perception,” he added, referring to the stock price. “People think a hot team trades better. We’re kind of at the low now. We have been improving since the All-Star break, and I think we’ll do better in ’17.”

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