Liberty didn’t disclose specific figures for opening-night revenue.
Although SunTrust Park has about 9,000 fewer seats than predecessor Turner Field, higher ticket prices – particularly for about 4,000 premium seats – are expected to drive higher revenue. Braves officials also noted on opening night that food-and-beverage sales were unusually strong.
In general, first-quarter financial results shed no significant light on the business of the Braves because major-league baseball teams recognize relatively little revenue in the January-through-March quarter.
The Braves had revenue of $5 million in the first quarter this year, up from $4 million in the same quarter last year. Liberty Media said the difference was “primarily attributable” to a March 31 exhibition game at SunTrust Park.
Liberty said the Braves had an operating loss of $29 million in the first quarter before depreciation and amortization, compared to a loss of $36 million in the first quarter of 2016. The company attributed the smaller first-quarter loss primarily to “the acceleration of player salary expense as a result of released or injured players in 2016, partially offset by costs associated with the ballpark operations and mixed-use project.”
MLB teams post the vast majority of their revenue — and profits — in the second and third quarters.
Liberty said that as of March 31 approximately $653 million had been spent on SunTrust Park, “of which approximately $378 million of funding was provided by Cobb County and related entities and $275 million provided by the Braves.”
In addition, the company said $354 million had been spent on the adjacent mixed-use development, The Battery Atlanta, including about $40 million provided by joint-venture partners and the rest by the Braves.
Maffei said The Battery, part of which is open, “remains on-time and on-budget.”
“The Battery restaurants were packed (on opening night), both before the game and well into the night,” he said.
Liberty also disclosed that the Braves carried debt of $420 million as of March 31, up from $338 million on Dec. 31, mostly associated with the stadium and The Battery.