The Atlanta Braves are owned by Liberty Media, a publicly traded company. Because Liberty Media is publicly traded, they are required to make public financial disclosures. As a result, there is much more transparency about the Braves’ finances than there is about most other teams.
MLB currently bars teams from being owned by public companies, though the Braves (and Toronto Blue Jays, owned by Rogers Communications), were grandfathered in. Seeing the reports of the Braves’ financial success probably explains why MLB has instituted that ban, since it helps pull the curtain back on how financially successful teams are.
Eric Fisher gives the top line numbers:
Liberty Media-owned Atlanta Braves report $568 million in revenue for 2021, $20 million in operating income, big shift from pandemic-impacted 2020 totals of $178 million in rev, $128 million operating loss. Adjusted OIBDA swings fr $53 million loss '20 to $104 million gain in '21— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBG) February 25, 2022
$20 million in operating income off of $568 million in revenue in a season when there were early limits on attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic...that’s not too shabby.
Though as Fisher notes, the operating income before depreciation and amortization — which tends to be a more meaningful figure for determining the valuation of an entity — was $104 million in 2021.
The $104M OIBDA is really the lede here. For non finance people, basically just know the Braves turned over a $100M profit last year before their accountants got really, really busy to make it look not as good on paper https://t.co/eEfrXXRS3g— GB (@gbb70) February 25, 2022
This has to be rather awkward timing for MLB, as the reports of the Braves making a bunch of money in 2021 comes at a time when the owners are arguing that they can’t raise minimum salaries much or kick in much money into a pre-arbitration bonus pool, and certainly can’t raise the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, because of how hard it is, financially, to own a major league team.
So yeah...let’s be clear. The owners are making money hand over fist. Their franchises continue to skyrocket in value. And that’s before we get into the non-financial perks of owning a major league sports franchise.
So keep that in mind when you hear the league say that it is the players, and their unreasonable positions, that are causing the labor strife, and potentially costing the league games this season.