What LMC Executives Say
When the sale was approved, John Malone was the prime mover from LMC’s side. Malone already owned a small interest in the Braves through his share in Time Warner and made it clear in a 2008 interview with Forbes that LMC wanted to stay out of running the team because they had no expertise there.
“We don’t have to run the baseball team, nor would we be any good at it. This is not unusual for us. We’ve always had a highly decentralized approach to running businesses.”
Forbes went on to say that, “Malone has given his baseball people all the money they need, upping the club payroll from $87 million to $102 million, the tenth highest in the majors.” Liberty’s CEO Greg Maffei opined that Braves leadership were “. . . reasonably more empowered. . .(now that Liberty has) given them freedom to move.”
More recently Maffei spoke specifically about team payroll in an interview contained in Tim Tucker’s “Liberty Media ‘happy owner’s of the Braves saying that payroll is set by Braves management led by McGuirk and gave a one line layout of the process.
“What happens is. . .the Braves’ management brings us a budget, a payroll budget included. And I don’t think we have once changed the number. . . It’s not like we come and say, ‘Nah, you got to cut that.’ I don’t think that has happened in the nine years that we have been involved. . . (they set) the direction on what (sic) they think the right place to invest is, the amounts they want to put in what parts of the operation, including payroll, and we have assented every year.”
Newberry makes a lot of assumptions in his piece that contradict what history says happened.
Newberry swears there’s no reason to leave Turner Field after twenty years as if the Braves cut and ran without making a genuine effort to stay.
More troubling is the absentee ownership, a callous front office that has left Gonzalez unfairly flapping in the breeze, and the impending move to the suburbs for a stadium that wasn’t needed (Turner Field is only 20 years old) and will be paid for with a huge chunk of taxpayer dollars.
In fact the Braves began to seek improvements at The Ted after the 2003 season as they moved to halt a declining attendance.
While the Braves were a successful team throughout the 90s attendance dropped sharply after 2001. According to the Forbes piece study instituted by McGuirk found four three things that needed to be addressed; traffic and parking issues, bad stadium food, terrible customer service and a team that couldn’t seem to take the last step in the post season.