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Mario Gabelli Comments on Liberty Braves Group

- By Holly LaFon

Liberty Braves Group (NASDAQ:BATRA) (0.8%) (BATRA - $27.28 / BATRK - $27.25 - NASDAQ), located in Cobb County, Georgia, was founded in 1871 and is the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchise in the U.S. The Atlanta Braves' second season at the 41,500 seat SunTrust Park resulted in a 2% increase in average attendance to 31,553 as the young team returned to the playoffs after an absence of five years. The Braves have benefited from the increase in sports team valuations with Forbes' Braves valuation increasing 41% over the last three years to $1.65 billion, in-line with MLB's 39% increase. Continued team performance combined with a low payroll effectively locked in for three/four years with a young "controllable" core and a top farm system could drive valuation further. The Braves continue to benefit from MLB broadcast contracts with new broadcasters such as Facebook and potential legal sports (PAPSA) betting revenue. The high stadium attendance supports the 66 acre mixed use real estate development, which is continuing to expand with the new Thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas and Aloft Hotel. The residential property was recently sold for $155 million which bodes well for the $600 million mixed use development which is "hidden" within the group.

From Mario Gabelli (Trades, Portfolio)'s third-quarter 2018 shareholder letter.
This article first appeared on GuruFocus.