Saturday, November 13, 2021 – Daily Notes: With record revenue almost guaranteed, could the Braves finally become big spenders?

Saturday, November 13, 2021

-Clint Manry

I feel like the Braves have a responsibility to retain former MVP and first baseman Freddie Freeman. Although, recent reports indicate that Freeman declined a rather substantial contract (5-year, $135 million) from the team, and that the Braves lifer is looking for something closer to six years and $200 million. That’s a lot of money to tie up for one player, but, unlike in previous years, it really shouldn’t be out of the question.

You see, the world champion Atlanta Braves franchise is headed for record revenues this year, with the third-quarter numbers coming out last week. From July to September of 2021, Atlanta brought in $234 million in total revenue, an increase of $22 million (or 10.4%) compared to 2019’s third quarter (and a jump of over $120 million relative to 2020’s shortened season).

From Liberty Media this past Thursday – the ownership group of the Braves: “Revenue growth more than offset increased operating costs as player salaries and facility and game-day expenses returned to more normalized levels in the current year.”

Altogether, once the fourth-quarter numbers come in, the Braves are headed for over a half-billion dollars in revenue for the 2021 season, which will easily top the franchise’s 2019 record of $476 million.

Braves 2021 revenue (by quarter)

Q1 – $16 million

Q2 – $216 million

Q3 – $234 million

Total so far – $466 million

Logically, those figures above created a much better profit margin this year. For the third-quarter in particular, in 2020 the Braves reportedly took a loss of $15 million after accounting for depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation. In 2021, the franchise returned to the black, bringing in roughly $35 million in profits.

Of course, there’s still plenty of overhead. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s recent write-up, Liberty Media disclosed last week that the Braves overall debt increased to $721 million — a jump from the $694 million in debt reported back in June. The company states that borrowing associated with the second phase of construction regarding The Battery contributed to the nearly $30-million increase in debt. The old saying, it takes spending money to make money, never could be truer for a team still developing a new stadium and the many things around it.

But do all of these profits matter? Could the Braves begin opening it’s pockets up a bit more?

We already know this year the team was seriously in on All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds, and according to The Athletic’s David O’Brien (a rumor that Chase Irle wrote about on Friday at SportsTalkATL.com), at the trade deadline the Braves were also trying to make a move that would’ve brought in Max Scherzer and Starling Marte – two superstars that come with big salaries. To me, it already seems like the franchise is trying to operate at a higher level, which bodes well for the Freeman sweepstakes.

Although, if you’ve been a Braves fan for any length of time, the reports of higher revenues and profits could end up as simply noise. Any time a cooperation controls a team, money can disappear for a number of reasons. But hopefully, considering the Braves literally won it all in 2021, Liberty Media will begin investing a bit more money in the team. All we can do, though, is hope.

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