Liberty Media, parent company to the Atlanta Braves, reported a steep decline in the team’s revenue for the financial quarter running April through June as the 2020 MLB season was delayed by four months.
The Braves are one of only a few American sports franchises part of a publicly traded company, which means that the earnings report offers rare intel on the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baseball revenue — which includes ballpark operations as well as local and national broadcast rights — dropped to just $5 million, down from $198 million during the same quarter last year. Development revenue, from mixed-use complex the Battery Atlanta, fell from $10 million to $6 million, bringing the total drop from $208 million to $11 million — a 95% decrease.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, team president and CEO Derek Schiller said that all team employees making more than $50,000 annually have had their pay reduced, though he declined to say by how much.
“When we can’t have fans [at games], and with all the other impacts COVID brings, it creates a very difficult financial situation for us,” Schiller said. “We were grateful that all of our organization understood, but nonetheless it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s just a really difficult situation.”
Per MLB’s agreement for the 2020 season, under which no players are receiving more than 37% of their originally contracted salary for the year, the Braves’ payroll is projected to be about $55 million for 60 games.
Liberty reported that the team’s operating expenses were $37 million in the second quarter, down from $146 million in the same period last year, largely because of the lack of player salaries and game-day expenses.