Ever since the organization broke ground on the mixed-development complex that would become SunTrust Park and The Battery, there was a very clear idea that the Braves were going to receive a financial boost from their new home. Now we have an exact idea of just how much of a boost it is and it’s clear that the Braves as a business are very, very pleased with their financial state at the moment.
According to a report from Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves received a whopping 47 percent revenue increase from 2016 to 2017 — their first year at SunTrust Park and The Battery. If for some strange reason you don’t believe that the Braves are happy about this huge boost in revenue, just take it from Liberty Media, themselves.
Liberty said the Braves generated revenue of $386 million last year, a 47-percent increase from $262 million in 2016.
Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei described the increase as “astounding,” saying in a news release that it demonstrated “the appeal of the new SunTrust Park and (adjacent mixed-use development) Battery Atlanta.”
There still might be some controversy surrounding how the stadium itself is being paid for, but the Braves are laughing all the way to the bank as it stands.
After this news broke, the natural line of thinking for fans of the Braves as a baseball team and not a business was “Are they going to put the money back into the team?” Well, if you were to judge the Braves based on their offseason activities from this past Winter, you’d think that Liberty is just planning on sitting on the cash while continuing to play with a relatively cheap payroll.
As of right now, the Braves are currently committed to spending around $116 million in payroll (via Baseball Prospectus), which is below league average. It was a slow offseason across baseball and the Braves played a role in that as well, since Peter Moylan is so far the only free agent who they gave a major league contract to. So as far as this season is concerned, the Braves are going to once again keep things on the cheaper side.
However, if you take a further look at the linked spreadsheet from Baseball Prospectus, you’ll see that the Braves currently only have just over $38 million on the books for 2019. That also coincides with what figures to be a much stronger free agent class than this past offseason and it should hopefully coincide with the team’s high-potential prospects who are ready for the bigs continuing to develop and improve to the point where the Braves can start “going for it” again.
So while it appears that the Braves aren’t going to be putting much of that revenue boost into the on-field product for this upcoming season, I’d guess that things are going to change once 2019 comes around. That may not be the most comforting thing to say to a fanbase that’s incredibly hungry to get back to being good again, but it’s a fact of life for the Braves right now.
Still, it appears that the decision to move from the heart of Atlanta to Cobb County is going to turn out to be a good one for the Braves. The Braves desperately needed to find a way to bring in more money since they’re still locked in to a pretty bad TV deal for a long time and while that TV deal still hurts, it’s clear that the financial boon of the new ballpark and the surrounding complex should be a net positive for the team going forward.