Liberty CEO’s comments reaffirm: Braves need new ownership

April 21, 2016 Atlanta - Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei (left) and Atlanta Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk talk during Atlanta Braves game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on Thursday, April 21, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei (left) and Braves CEO Terry McGuirk talk during Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field. (Hyosub Shin / hshin@ajc.com)

For my column on the Braves’ struggling first baseman, Freddie Freeman, click here. But first, a word from Braves’ ownership.

Greg Maffei, Liberty Media’s $73.5 million CEO, stepped out from behind the wizard’s curtain Thursday to address the corporation’s cellar-dwelling Braves, whose active roster total payroll is about $63 million. (I don’t like all analytics but I like that stat.)

Maffei spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tim Tucker, whose salary is significantly less than Maffei or the Braves’ but has done far more to earn his salary. Below are some of Maffei’s comments and my thoughts:

• Maffei said Liberty has no plans to sell the team, adding, “The Braves have been a great asset, great for Liberty, and we are happy owners.”

See? That’s the problem. The Braves are referred to as an asset, not a team, with actual human beings on the field and in the stands (in theory). Liberty has “happy owners?” Of a 4-11 team that may be on the way to 100 losses? I’m not suggesting all corporate ownership is horrible, or that all owners with faces are great (see: Atlanta Spirit). But it’s clear Liberty just doesn’t care. Nobody should want ownership that just doesn’t care.

• Maffei: “I think there are a lot of ways the Braves continue to be a very interesting business for us, as well as a great team.” Oh look – a pity reference to the team.

• Via Tucker: Maffei was asked what he would say to fans who think the Braves need a local, passionate, engaged owner. “I only read the AJC occasionally, so I don’t (see) as much of that as some people do.” Comment: According to this New York Times list of the nation’s top paid CEO’s, Maffei earned $73,750,882. Maffei can purchase a MyAJC.com digital pass for 99 cents for the first two months and $8.99 per month for every month there after. But I understand that given taxes and his overhead, $73,750,882 doesn’t go as far as it used to.

• More from Maffei on the local ownership issue: “There are a couple (decisions) that we usually assent to, but on pretty much everything day to day this team is run out of Atlanta. So for all intents and purposes, there is local ownership.” On a weasel-out-of-the-answer scale of 1 to 10, that’s a 12.5.

• Maffei said the team’s payroll, which currently ranks 26th among the 30 MLB teams, is set by Braves management, led by McGuirk. Comment: That may be true. But the Braves propose a budget that they know Liberty will approve, and the Braves knew they would stink this season (by design) and few fans would show up to watch them play.

• On the Liberty Braves stock (BATRA) getting bashed on Wall Street: “I think it’ll take a while for investors and research analysts to get a handle on how to value a team and what to do going forward.” Oh, I think they’ve already figured out how they value the stock, Gregy.

For Tucker’s excellent questions and more mis-directions from Maffei, see the story (linked here) 

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Reader Comments 0

95 comments
Kevin Wiseman
Kevin Wiseman

Back to the pre Turner days, What time does the game start? Oh when can you get here.

ccrider27
ccrider27

Great article! Vintage Schultz. Love it.


The only mystery to me is why ANYBODY spends the time and money to go to a Braves game.


It's some kind of mental illness.

Mark Campis
Mark Campis

And don't get me started about the move to outside of the city limits. New name: the 'Cobb Cowards'

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Liberty will have a problem unloading the Braves now that the Market had told them what the Team is worth, but unload them they will maybe to Valdosta

Michael Mitten
Michael Mitten

I said this last year when they dumped the team. It was clear then they don't care about the team or the city.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Why should they care about the City?

Mark Campis
Mark Campis

After 33 years as a Braves fan, I quit watching and going to games last year. The corporate ownership attitude has ruined the team and the experience. I won't be back. Got my season tickets to the Atlanta United yesterday!

Harvey Heath
Harvey Heath

We had this problem with the Atlanta Hawks. Now they are winning. We need one owner for the Braves. When Ted Tuner own them we were winners.

Steven Oliver
Steven Oliver

Ted Tucker was the dude married to Jane Funder, right? \U0001f633

Harvey Heath
Harvey Heath

Don't know why the president of MLB would not let Author Blanks buy the team from the start.

Jeff Heika
Jeff Heika

Too late - once they move to the new stadium next season I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, will be done with them.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Liberty was far less focused on the Braves asset when it was valued around $460M.  They got interested very quickly once Forbes revised their estimate to $1.2B based on the new stadium complex.  Surprised they issued the tracking stock prior to the new stadium opening as the hay is far from being in the barn in terms of proving the mixed-use stadium model will work and succeed in Cobb.  Stock will get hammered further if there are hiccups with the lease revenues and/or the adoption time goals. I'm in favor of the move but this is far from a slam dunk from a business perspective.  Particularly now that the Braves entity is a fully exposed public market asset with quarterly reporting requirements.

ThomasD
ThomasD

Only because of the fact that the ajc is the only game in town, is why I read it. If I was that owner dude, I wouldn't read it either. They refer to luckovich's counterbalance cartoon as "From the Right" but O'Reilley doesn't have the stones to call lucovich's cartoon "From the Left". Face it, this "paper" is a rag.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Nothing here; move on...

Just the standard "all rich people and/or all corporations are evil" story from a pity-poor-me liberal media type. 

Then he even contradicts himself!  LOL!

"See? That’s the problem. The Braves are referred to as an asset, not a team."

"Maffei: 'I think there are a lot of ways the Braves continue to be a very interesting business for us, as well as a great team.' Oh look – a pity reference to the team."

Jeff, you are really off your game these days.  I know you value greatly my opinion, so allow me to educate you, ok?

Ok, read slowly now:

EVERY...PROFESSIONAL...SPORTS...FRANCHISE...IS...A...BUSINESS.   BUSINESSES...HAVE...ASSETS.

Got it?  Need me to write this again?

And Jeff, do you not know that every "owner" is in fact a corporation to make money and have a liability umbrella to protect their personal assets?

And by the way, Jeff, how have the Hawks, Falcons, Flames, Thrashers, and Chiefs fared over the decades with local ownership you can interrogate?

And good luck with your son!

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Well you are about 7 years too late for this article. But this actually goes back to AOL/Time Warner to where they really killed this team and all of Turner's investments, like the Hawks, Thrashers and WCW.

Liza Fay
Liza Fay

Y'all just realizing this now? Ever since Liberty bought them they had no chance. They just saw them as a profit. A money making deal. I hate to say this but I miss Ted. At least he put out the money for a REAL team. Ted Turner is the reason why we were allowed to bring in outside food and drinks into Turner Field and why I could take my son out to a game almost every home game and with the $ Howard Clark tickets. I'm so glad I'm no longer in Georgia to see the new stadium go up. I miss the Braves but I'm not missing what that traffic will be like once it's done out there!!

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Why is there no story on the infield conditions at Turner Field in the AJC?  Both the Braves players and other teams are threatening to file complaints with the union, yet no story here but on multiple other sites.


Whatever happened to Ed Mangum, is this a failure on his part or what? 

mark513
mark513

dashriptide is correct, the main question with ownership is if the current rebuild works and guys like Swanson et al. turn into stars will we pay to keep them or do we turn into the Marlins? Schutlz reference to the CEO salary is irrelevant is clear to what Schultz agenda is regarding this story. Corporations bad the little guy good Schutlz allows his own personal agenda  to get in the way of a fair assessment of Liberty's ownership. The salary of the CEO makes not one scintilla of difference in a successful Braves season, it is only used as a ad ho mien attack against Liberty as the owner of the Braves. We all loved Ted when the Braves turned the corner in 91 but prior to that they where the laughing stock of MLB. Local ownership does not equate to winning see Arthur Blank. I like many other Falcons fans where ecstatic when Blank bought the Falcons from the Smith's, the Smith's who for years bungled and fumbled away season after season. Blank was thought to bring a midas touch along with an open check book to spear us any more miserable season. The results are we have not been back to the Super Bowl since the Smith's have owned the team. Current trajectory is unknown, but according to Schultz and others at the AJC, the Falcons are teetering toward irrelevance.  Winning teams have a model and spending money is irrelevant to that model. Winning models are ones built on a core philosophy and never straying from that, if money needs to be spent to stay the course they spend it, but otherwise money makes no difference. Liberty took over the team in 2007 since then the Braves have finished first once and been in the playoffs 3 times and finished 2nd in 2011 after an epic 2nd half collapse. Spending money has not been the problem, bad free agent signings (spending money) and lack of farm talent has. Plus the worst manager in all of baseball has not helped.  If current management core philosophy of developing home grown talent and execution of that philosophy i.e. picking the right players  develops into a winning championship core then as long as  Liberty writes the checks to stay the course no one save for Schultz will give a damn about how much money the CEO of Liberty makes. 

Ben Gunby
Ben Gunby

And people still drink the kool-aid in regards to this "rebuilding" project. Sip on, my friends

dashriptide
dashriptide

@ajc Braves are doing the right thing. Free agency doesn't work w/o steroids. The issue is whether Liberty will pay to lock in future stars.

Jeff Nelson
Jeff Nelson

New ownership is desperately needed! We need a new Ted Turner - he actually cared about Atlanta sports teams!

RangeRover
RangeRover

Please don't forget that Turner was a drunken embarrassment to this city many, many years while owing the Braves until finally someone talked him into letting some sober baseball professionals take over about 1990.

Silaslang
Silaslang

@ajc Yea no crap, they seem fine with our current tank job and will treat the team as a tax shelter

Biff_Pocoroba
Biff_Pocoroba

I've said this for years. Liberty Media sucks.

Johnathan Tatman
Johnathan Tatman

Most fans gave been saying that the team needs new ownership for years now...

Nick DeAngelo
Nick DeAngelo

it's just a money grab from MLB that they'd let a corporation own a team. They have no passion for the game and just see dollars and cents and looking for the cheapest way to earn a return. I'm shocked that any of them have ever attended a game.

Zachary Thomaston
Zachary Thomaston

Why the hell should they care. Sports exist only to make money, if they are making money why does it matter? This is what happens when you get emotionally invested in something as ridiculous as a sports team.

Gman84
Gman84

Jeff: Thanks for giving voice to what many fans have been saying/feeling for years.

ThomasD
ThomasD

Noooooooo!!!! Keep Arthur away!!!

Amanda Casey
Amanda Casey

They can't possibly be much of an asset given their history of losing... Surely any CEO could envision the increased ROI if only the investors put more into team development.

Ben Gunby
Ben Gunby

They're a huge asset. You don't need ticket sales to make a profit, as they've shown. And the new stadium they weaseled into will just be a bunch of icing on their cake

Tom Edwards
Tom Edwards

Get corporate ownership out of all professional sports. Liberty Media is a pathetic excuse for an owner....

Brian Kliemt
Brian Kliemt

I've been saying his for years and years. The Atlanta Braves need an owner who cares. Until that happens, we will never be good again.

HeyThere
HeyThere

You can almost hear him yawning in between these non-answers

Daniel Stephen
Daniel Stephen

This is nothing new, Braves we're doomed the day Liberty acquired them.