Liberty Media releases Braves’ 2022 financials

Liberty Media, the company that owns the Braves, is a publicly traded company. As a result, they are one of two teams (the Blue Jays being the other) whose books are opened to the public. This morning Liberty Media released the financial figures for 2022. The full report is available through Investors Observer and chronicled by Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Liberty Media collected a franchise-record $588 million in Braves-related revenue last year, according to the report. That’s a $20 million jump from the previous franchise record figure of 2021, which the company attributed to increased ticket demand and additional sales on the heels of Atlanta’s World Series championship.

In contrast, the franchise’s operating income before debt and amortization (OIBDA) was lower than last season. The $71 million OIBDA was lower than last year’s $104 million. The company reported an operating loss of $15 million after reporting $20 million in operating income during the prior season. But those numbers are not include revenue from the Battery Atlanta, a mixed-use development complex adjacent to Truit Park and owned by Liberty Media. Liberty Media reported $28 million in additional net operating income and $53 million in total revenue related to that project.

With respect to the figures pertaining specifically to the Braves franchise, Liberty Media attributed the relatively lower OIBDA and operating profit to higher revenue-sharing costs and higher player payroll. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Atlanta’s opening day in 2022 was about a franchise-record $178 million, after about $131 million in 2021.

However, another major change for the organization between 2021 and ’22 was the club’s post-season fortunes. The Braves, of course, won the championship the previous season and benefited from eight playoff home games. Because of their loss in last year’s NL Division Series, they were stuck with two postseason home games. As a result, Liberty Media reported significantly lower revenue in the fourth quarter of 2022 than in the previous season. Other than a repeat World Series run, the franchise’s playoff-related revenue always seemed to be on the decline.

The Braves are coming off a very quiet off-season, at least from a free agent perspective. Atlanta acquired catcher Sean Murphy and promptly signed him to a six-year, $73 million extension. That was their only notable investment of the off-season. The club’s only other major league acquisitions were relievers Joe Jimenez And Lucas Luetge (combined $4.315 million in arbitrage salaries), cheap free agent deals for outfielder Jordan Luplow ($1.4MM) and illuminator Nick Andersen ($875K if in the majors) and trades for pre-arbitrage players like Eli White And Sam Hillard.

Atlanta saw a top free agent leave for the second straight off-season, watching Dansby Swanson sign with the Cubs a year later Freddy Freeman went to the Dodgers. Despite the rather quiet winter, they are easily on their way to another franchise high in player spending. The Braves enter 2023 with a payroll of $199 million as calculated by Roster Resource. Their expected luxury tax number is just under $240 million, which will exceed this year’s base threshold of $233 million. The franchise appears poised to pay the luxury tax for the first time in Liberty Media’s tenure.

That’s a reflection of the staggering number of contracts already on the books, many of them early career extensions. No other organization has attracted key players to long-term deals with the same success shortly after their MLB debut. Those kinds of pacts tend to backload to roughly reflect how a player’s earnings would have evolved through arbitrage. Not coincidentally, Atlanta already has more than $90 million on its books during the 2028 campaign.






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