Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
April 25, 2007
Forbes Releases MLB Franchise Valuations
Forbes Magazine released their annual franchise valuations for all 30 major league baseball teams and it’s not surprising that the New York Yankees came out on top with a current value of $1.2 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a ‘b.” Right behind them is the New York Mets at $736 million, and the difference between the Yankees at the top spot and the Mets at second is the more then the difference between the Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who come in at 28th.
Rounding out the top five are the Boston Red Sox ($724 million), the Los Angeles Dodgers ($632 million) and the Chicago Cubs ($592 million). The Cubs are the highest valued team that’s for sale, and they were also one of the teams that saw their value increase the most from last year (32%). The team with the largest increase from last year was the Minnesota Twins, with owner Carl Pohlad seeing the team’s value increase by 33%, up to $288 million. A lot of this is most likely because of the new stadium deal that was pushed through the Minnesota legislature last year.
The Yankees also topped all teams in revenue with $302 million. Only three other teams topped $200 million and those were the three teams that trailed them in the valuation ranking (Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers).
Almost as interesting is the bottom of the list. The Florida Marlins come out in last place with a franchise value of $244 million. You could see the Marlins catapult a bunch of other teams if they get a stadium deal done, but as you’ll read later, that’s looking more and more unlikely. The Marlins are also dead last in revenue with $122 million, although before you take into account interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, the Marlins were by far the most profitable, with operating income of $43.3 million. The next closest team was the Dodgers at $27.5 million. The only team to “lose” money were the Yankees, who had a $25.2 million shortfall.
Keep in mind that these are all estimates based on a variety of different sources. Since the teams won't open up the books, there's never a certainty here and usually, the league comes out with a press release saying that the numbers are inaccurate.
Braves Look to Boost Season Ticket Sales With Financing Plan
The Atlanta Braves have partnered with GE Money’s Sales Finance unit to offer 90 day, no-interest, no-payment options on just about all of their ticket plans, whether it’s a four ticket plan or a full season package. As far as Derek Schiller, the Braves senior vice president of sales and marketing, knows, no other team has tried this before.
With all of the third party ticket sale choices out there, this is an interesting option. A fan could buy their season tickets, go to the games he wants, and then for the first three months, sell the tickets and have the cash in hand before he has to make his payment. Be careful of the fine print though. If this works the same way as when I did a similar deal on my sofa, you have to pay it all at the end of 90 days or you have to essentially pay back interest; there are usually some pretty stiff finance charges if you don't pay the balance at the end of the term. I’d be interested in seeing a copy of the financing agreement if there’s one floating around out there, because all of these deals are a little bit different.
From the Braves perspective, it’s a way to boost season ticket sales. It’ll be interesting to see whether it works or not, especially considering we’re almost a month into the season.
Marlins Stadium Push On Its Last Leg
The Florida Marlins and its supporters in the Florida legislature now have less then two weeks to go to pass a sale tax subsidy that will pave the way for a new stadium for the ball club. Florida Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster has said it’s a dead issue, but this is politics, and if Carl Pohlad can get something done after over a decade of trying in Minnesota, then anything can happen.
One of the big road blocks is the supposed economic benefit that a new stadium supposedly brings to the area. The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference isn’t buying that there’s much benefit and frankly, I’m on that side of the fence as well, so it’s hard to justify voting for a hand out to a sports team when the state is cutting the funding for social services and transportation projects.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how things shake out. Odds are, it’ll be a deadline deal if it will go down so we won’t know what happens until late next week.
Twins Stadium Renderings
The Minnesota Twins unveiled their renderings of the design of what should be their new ballpark. You can check out the pictures at Bizofbaseball.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.