Sports

Time for Atlanta Braves to Squeeze a Little Extra Money Out of "Turner Field"

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That's right, I said it. "Turner Field" needs to go away.  No, I don't mean it should be demolished and then the ashes buried under the Hank Aaron 715 sign in the blue lot.  I mean it's time for the Braves to take some steps to bring in extra revenue to make up for the horrible television deal they are currently locked into.

Right now Liberty Media gives GM Frank Wren about a $94 million budget to work with each year.  There's no "Oh hey, we really need to keep this guy so I'm going to spend an extra $10 million".  The budget is what it is.  One of the big reasons for the budget constraint is the current TV deal.  They are locked into 25-year local TV contracts that will prevent the franchise from getting in on Major League Baseball’s trend toward much higher fees to get broadcasting rights.

The Angels’ and Rangers’ recent TV mega-deals were the reason those teams were able to acquire big name free agents Albert Pujols and Yu Darvish.  The Dodgers new Magic Johnson led ownership group is looking at a deal in the billions of dollars to broadcast their games.  Without the big "cash up front" broadcasting deals that other teams are getting, the Braves are put behind the 8-ball when it comes time to try to land some of the big fish, and keep some of the ones they already have.  Michael Bourn springs to mind.

What kind of money are we talking about?  The estimated amount of money that teams received for their current stadium/arena-naming rights deals is just over $3.5 billion. The average cost and length of all the current naming rights deals is $54.6 million over 19 years. That works out to about $2.9 million a year.  Take the Houston Texans for example.  The Texans sold their stadium's naming rights to Reliant Energy for $300 million over 30 years. That's $10 million a year that the Texans will get for the next 30 years. What do you think the Braves could do with an extra $10 million a year?

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And the players are right here in Atlanta to auction the naming rights off to the highest bidder.  What do you think Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, Delta Air Lines, Southern Company or SunTrust would pay to have their name slapped on the side of the Braves ballpark?

Ok, yes...I know some of you are saying it would be horrible to remove the homage to former owner Ted Turner.  And to a certain degree, I would say that's right.  But there are plenty of other ways the Braves can honor Ted Turner in the stadium without passing up the opportunity to have extra money (that he used to give the Braves) to sign and retain the top players they need.  Why not "Ted's Alley" or "Turner Pavilion", or even "Ted and Hank's 755 Club".

Personally I have never been a big fan of stadiums and ballparks being named after corporations or banks.  But I'm even less of a fan of watching the Braves struggling to catch the Phillies with half the amount of money to spend that Philadelphia has.  So I say, let the bidding begin, and au revoir to "The Ted".

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