The Atlanta Braves haven’t missed a beat since winning the World Series in November.
Braves parent company, Liberty Media, reported on Friday that the team reeled in $260 million in revenue between April and June. That’s a 20% increase from the same period last season, when the Braves posted $216 million en route to setting a new franchise revenue record of $568 million. This latest bump came after Truist Park re-opened for full attendance this season; last year, attendance was limited by COVID-19 precautions.
Atlanta is reaping the financial benefits of winning its first title in 26 years. It already boasted one of the league’s best attendance records, and the numbers are up 23% from the 2019 season (the last pre-pandemic season). The team has sold the most season-ticket packages since 2000.
The Braves (NYSE: BATRA) did see their operating expenses jump 23% from the same quarter last year because of higher players salaries and personnel costs as game day expenses normalized; their payroll from last year has increased as the team tries to make another title run.
They signed first baseman Matt Olsen to an eight-year contract ($168 million) in March and earlier this week signed third baseman Austin Riley to a 10-year contract ($212 million), which is the most lucrative deal in team history. The Braves also acquired Los Angeles Angels veteran closer Raisel Iglesias just before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Iglesias is owed $48 million over the next three seasons.
The Braves, whose deadline acquisitions last year helped propel to them to the World Series title, are also using the recent revenue boost to trim $76 million in total debt, dropping that overall number to $602 million during the second quarter under MLB’s credit facility. About $104 million in attributed cash to the Braves decreased as it went toward net debt repayment and increases in capital expenditures related to expansion of The Battery, their adjacent multi-use development.
Liberty is one of the only major public companies with three tracking stock groups (Liberty SiriusXM Group, Formula One Group and Braves Group). The Colorado-based company crossed the 80% majority ownership threshold last year in a stock transaction with Berkshire Hathaway, which gave it more flexibility to execute a public spinoff of its sports assets. Since then, Liberty investors and others remain curious about whether the conglomerate will move forward with a restructuring that includes the Braves.
On Friday’s investor call, Liberty CEO Greg Maffei mentioned the company’s history of taking corporate action to spin off assets but pointed out the reasons for not doing so now, including tax management efficiency and increased options. It’s remains to be seen if or when Liberty will decide to spin off its properties.