Liberty Media Adds Braves’ NL Pennant to 2021 Rebound

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It’s a good time to be in Texas if you’re a Liberty Media executive.

Liberty CEO Greg Maffei exemplified this feeling in a Twitter photo he posted of himself over the weekend during Formula One’s U.S. Grand Prix in Austin. “Loving it in TX,” he wrote.

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The colossal debut racing event was a milestone for Liberty-owned Formula One, garnering a record crowd and showing great potential for the sport in America moving forward.

If the company needed anything else to celebrate, the Atlanta Braves, also owned by Liberty, are in Houston to face the Astros starting Tuesday night in their first World Series appearance since 1999. It’s slated to be one of the most exciting—and lucrative —weeks of any sports company in recent months.

But this development was far from guaranteed, as the Braves’ season seemed doomed a few months ago. Now, the franchise is on the doorstep of winning its first title in 26 years. It would also be the first under the ownership of Liberty, which acquired the team in 2007 for about $1.5 billion (now the team is valued at $2.38 billion). The first decade was met with plenty of highs and lows before finding stability on the field, against the backdrop of its own mixed-use development adjacent to Truist Park.

While the Braves have been more competitive in recent years, capturing the National League East division title the last four seasons, this is a prime opportunity for them to reclaim the elusive Commissioner’s Trophy and bring renewed passion for one of the oldest clubs in baseball. Winning the series also potentially translates into another flux of recovery dollars as the Braves and 29 other clubs navigate the post-COVID future.

The Braves were among those deeply impacted by the ongoing pandemic. The absence of fans and fewer games resulted in a $298 million loss in revenue last year, according to company filings. But with loosened state restrictions, the Braves saw business bounce back this season—finishing second in the league in attendance while reeling in $216 million in second quarter revenue.

It’s been a comeback year overall for Liberty, with the return of fans driving momentum back for its entertainment properties. Live Nation, owned by Liberty, is also receiving a major boost with concerts and tour schedules stabilizing again. The concert promoter reported $575 million in 2021 second quarter revenue, a noticeable jump from the $74 million made during the same time in 2020.

Between concerts, racing and baseball, Liberty has watched its revenue streams return to familiar levels during an unpredictable time for the industry. The Colorado-based company, which raised $575 million for its SPAC earlier this year, has regained its balance entering the final quarter. And with help from the Braves, Liberty looks to cap off the year with its prized baseball club hoisting the glimmering trophy.