We don’t know his name, but his impact on the team can’t be overstated.
Back in 2007, as the team was being sold to Liberty Media, Time Warner was negotiating a new TV deal for the Braves, although benefiting the team was the least of the Evil Empire’s concerns.
“It was to Turner’s advantage, obviously, to do it that way,” said Braves CEO Terry McGuirk. They were parting with the team and they were able to structure a long-term relationship with Fox. If there was no deal it was far better for the team. But it is what it is. [The team] was bought with that in place.”
The deal, believed to be worth between $10 million and $20 million (closer to the former) annually, pales in comparison to the $240 million per year the Dodgers receive per year, or the the 25-year, $2.5 billion contract inked by the Phils last year. The Braves were able to rework the contract to the tune of $500 million over the length of the deal, originally set to expire in 2027. Liberty’s CEO would not say whether more years were added.
The most generous estimate puts the annual outlay in the mid-$50 million range, which would still rank below teams such as the Astros ($80 million per) and Padres ($60 million per). How much money the new stadium will generate remains to be seen. One wonders if the team would be moving to Cobb had they not been sabotaged by the Time Warner tool, or abandoned by Major League Baseball, which allows corporate ownership.
The damage to the Braves isn’t fatal, but they’ll have to be creative to compete. Big-ticket free agents are out of reach, and we’ll soon learn whether the Braves will be able to retain one of their young cornerstones. I suspect Heyward will be playing elsewhere in 2016, if not before.
Thanks for nothing, Time Warner.