Does corporate ownership of sports teams ever work?

In trying to figure out the reasoning behind the local TV contract, I can’t help but wonder if the Braves were used as a bargaining chip between Fox and Time Warner, which have been involved in numerous carriage disputes over the years. “We’ll give you cheap programming if you lower the carriage fees.” Yes, the Braves will suffer but that will be some other corporation’s problem.

You got a better theory?

This is why corporate ownership of sports teams is a bad idea. The NFL doesn’t allow it. MLB currently has three corporate owners: Nintendo (Mariners), Rogers Communications (Blue Jays) and Liberty. In recent years, Tribune, Disney and Fox owned, respectively, the Cubs, Angels and Dodgers. Number of championships: Zero.

Of course that’s not the only barometer to measure whether corporate ownership is good or bad, but when a conglomerate’s interests merge, such as in broadcasting, it’s easy to see how teams can be treated as pawns to enrich the bottom line.

It didn’t have to be this way. Bud has the authority to block anyone from purchasing a team, but he’d rather use that veto power on someone like Mark Cuban. And so the Braves have become just another corporate holding, subject to all that entails.

We’ve yet to see the worst of it, but the handwriting is on the wall. In large, block letters. Let’s remind Bud of that when his farewell tour makes its way to Atlanta this season.


5 thoughts on “Does corporate ownership of sports teams ever work?

Add yours

  1. I still don’t get the payroll restrictions. Even the mentioned corporate owned teams never operated on the shoestring budget that Wren and co have to.

    The Mariners spent a ton this offseason. And the Jays payroll was ~$30 million higher than ours last season.

    Even the past examples like the tribune owned Cubs spent relatively big. That may be a bad example though. They traded a couple division titles for 10+ more years in the cellar.

    Tv contracts aside, do we not draw more fans and sell more merch than the Jays and M’s? There has to be more money somewhere. The franchise doesn’t double in value in the time they have had the team if they weren’t making money. They’ve said in the past the Braves are basically free of long term debt. Where is the money going since its definitely not going toward payroll? Are they saving up that 100 million contribution for the new ballpark complex?

    It just bums me to see these guys walk or get traded away because we can’t afford them. Its really telling that we wont even buy out any arb years. We’re the cheap franchise now.

  2. I’d like to point out that I have long suggested that some sort of quid-per-quo between Time-Warner (cable division) and Fox was at the heart of the crappy TV deal. And now Charter Communications, a division of Liberty Media, is trying to acquire Time-Warner Cable. Quelle suprise. (I would like to think that the antitrust division of the Justice Department would move to block such a deal, but I’m not holding my breath.)

  3. Didn’t Disney own the Angles when they won the series? But I get what you are saying. Why didn’t AOL/TW bundle the Braves and Turner South? Better question, why did the “Office of the Commissioner” allow the TV deal to be approved.

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