Atlanta Braves Fans Love to Hate Liberty Media – but they’re reasons are mostly myth
Yesterday AP’s Paul Newberry posted “Braves go from model franchise to laughing-stock” (this link is one of about 20 places AP posted his piece) where he outlines the decline of the Braves from perpetual contenders and highly respected organization to laughing-stock. He makes a lot of good points but on Liberty Media he’s not factually correct.
Liberty Media Aren’t the Problem
Fans have a lot of misconceptions about the relationship between Braves Baseball and Liberty Media Corporation (LMC). Last year Chris Jervis posted a well written, in-depth look at that relationship, I suggested reading it all. Jervis explains that in the grand scheme of things just sending money to the Braves isn’t allowed.
Under securities law, Liberty Media was also limited from just sending money at will to the Braves. Liberty Media is a publicly traded company with a board of directors and shareholders and fiduciary responsibilities. . . The Braves are a non-essential, non-core part of the entire Liberty Media business group. . . sending money that should rightfully go back to shareholders . . . could put them in a potentially very bad situation for neglecting those fiduciary responsibilities. . . . There are ways, if Liberty Media wanted to do it, to funnel money to the Braves. . . .why would Liberty Media want to jeopardize a $9B revenue company . . . over a very small, non-essential part of it’s overall business? (emphasis added)
. . . it all boils down to the Braves being a self-supporting entity. They run entirely on their own revenues, and if they want to be bigger players in the current baseball economy (i.e. have a higher payroll), they will need to increase revenues.
Newberry says the Liberty Media have cut Braves payroll. That is factually incorrect. Corporate team ownership was a huge problem when LMC made the offer to buy because of the debacle CBS created when they owned the Yankees.
Terry McGuirk was retained as controller of Braves Baseball by LMC when they purchased the team in order to overcome that issue. He is the de facto owner of the team who makes payroll decisions. He’s said so many times including in interview with Phil Hudson of the Atlanta Business Chronicle who specifically ask McGuirk how payroll was set.
I’m the control person of the team, which is in the coin of the realm of baseball is the person who has to make the decisions — no one else can make the decisions. . . (Liberty Media has) no intention of getting involved at the decision-making level of this organization.
Hudson asked the question again when he queried who made decisions about adding payroll and specifically about adding Ervin Santana in 2014 McGuirk said, “It’s totally my decision.” (emphasis added)