Atlanta Braves set to sell their minor league teams

Last week, BaseballAmerica teased that a company was getting ready to buy into minor league baseball in a big way.  Today we learn that Atlanta Braves affiliates are involved.

A publicly-traded company named Endeavor Group Holdings has created a subsidiary named Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH), and one of their first acts is going to be the acquisition of all four Atlanta Braves minor league teams.

Endeavor (EDR on the New York Stock Exchange) made the announcement today, which is being reported on BaseballAmerica.com and on various financial news sites.

This from J.J. Cooper of BA:

Endeavor has formed a subsidiary named Diamond Baseball Holdings to acquire all four Braves minor league affiliates (Triple-A Gwinnett, Double-A Mississippi, High-A Rome and Low-A Augusta) as well as the Cubs Triple-A affiliate (Iowa), the Yankees Triple-A affiliate (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre), the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate (Memphis), the Yankees High-A affiliate (Hudson Valley) and the Giants Low-A affiliate (San Jose).

DBH said it was also in the late stages of negotiations to purchase a “handful” of other significant franchises that it expects to announce “in due course.”

The Braves’ minor league teams are relatively unique in the industry as they are (were?) wholly team-owned.

UPDATE:  That wasn’t quite true.  The Low-A Augusta Greenjackets were purchased by DBH, though the Atlanta Braves were not the owners (credit:  David O’Brien via twitter.)

 

While a lot is still unknown about this still-breaking announcement, two points should be said right away:

  • This has no impact whatsoever on the major league club.  In fact, recent comments from a Liberty Media executive stated that the Atlanta Braves are not for sale and would not be at any point in the foreseeable future (news conference; link unavailable).
  • Little is known about the plans DBH has for the clubs, though a statement seems to suggest an effort to support and maintain these clubs in their present locations.

This comment from the BA article, quoting DBH Chairman Mark Shapiro (no, not the Toronto Blue Jays’ executive with the same name), supports that outlook:

 “Our expertise across sponsorship sales, event operations, licensing, marketing and content creation will bring incredible value to these Clubs, supporting communities across the country who form the backbone of the Professional Development League system.”

Indeed, the Mississippi Braves have a long-term lease arrangement at Trustmark Park in Pearl, MS that still has close to a couple of decades yet to run, so that team certainly isn’t going anywhere soon.

By the manner in which Player Development arrangements work, the Braves will still exercise full control over players and personnel running baseball operations.  DBH would own the organization and facilities involved and be responsible for ensuring that the games can happen.

They would also be responsible for promotions, tickets, local staff apart from the baseball activities, radio/TV, etc.  If DBH chooses to get away from the “Braves” name still attached to the Rome and Mississippi clubs, it would be within their rights to do so.

Still, this is a surprise:  just 12 months after MLB’s takeover and consolidation of all minor league leagues, here is a group bursting onto the scene with the aim and goal of bolstering minor league baseball across the country.

We will follow this to see what changes might be coming… and we’ll root for their success.