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Thursday, February 29, 2024

There’s Nothing Minor About MiLB’s Team Sale Trends

  • Potential sale of Triple-A Charlotte Knights is poised to further reset a booming market.
  • Rising MLB standards for minor-league affiliates represent a key influence.
Charlotte Knights

What was already a boom time for sales of Minor League Baseball teams is about to get another jolt.  

The Triple-A Charlotte Knights, the top farm team of the Chicago White Sox, are officially up for sale, with current owner Don Beaver exploring a potential transaction. A deal for the Knights and Charlotte’s Truist Field could potentially reach $100 million, based on recent comps, which would set a new record for an MiLB team sale.

“A few prospective interested parties have inquired about the team and the ballpark,” the Knights said. “We want to vet the interested groups to see if a sale makes sense for Don Beaver and his family.”

The last several years have already seen an increasingly frothy market for MiLB franchises, which may not be the flashiest sports asset to own—but which have shown steady attendance figures that have largely returned to pre-pandemic norms, as well as solid profit margins since MLB parent clubs pay minor league player salaries. Among the top recent MiLB team sales:

  • An estimated $70 million deal last month for the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox, part of an aggressive acquisition push by Diamond Baseball Holdings, which now owns 29 MiLB teams—nearly a quarter of the entire affiliated minor leagues. 
  • A $90 million acquisition in 2022 of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats and Sutter Health Park by Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and Arctos Sports Partners, believed to be the current standard-bearer for MiLB team sales.

The Knights look to push that further, based in part on a consistent standard as one of MiLB’s top draws (the team was 10th in attendance in 2023, with an average of 6,833 per game) and the 10-year-old Truist Field, located in quickly-developing uptown Charlotte.

The run of MiLB deals is also an outgrowth of MLB’s 2020-21 reorganization of the affiliated minor league, a dramatic move that resulted in the elimination of 40 franchises. That overhaul has arrived with a sharp upgrade in MLB facility requirements for minor league affiliates, a demand resulting in some team relocations and longtime owners deciding to sell. 

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