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March 23, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Mariners seeing value soar even when they lose

Sitting here looking at a rainbow and hoping it means the high school tournament I’m trying to see in Kobe today won’t be called off once again. Meanwhile, I figured I’d comment briefly on an item Larry Stone mentioned the other day about Forbes magazine and their annual survey of the franchise value of

MLB teams.

We’ve written for a good part of the winter about the Mariners and how their franchise value continues to climb despite on-field losses.

Well, that hasn’t changed. The Mariners say they lost $7.3 million last season, but Forbes says the overall value of their franchise soared by nearly 30 percent to $585 million. That’s the highest climb in baseball other than the Dodgers, who are in the midst of a bidding war by would-be owners.

Forbes has been criticized before for it’s numbers. But often, other than when teams complain, the critiques suggest Forbes is too conservative in its guesses. With the Mariners, a judge in the Chris Larson divorce case put their value at $641 million last December. Larson is here in Japan on this trip by the way, his 30.6 percent ownership in the M’s being the largest outside of Hiroshi Yamauchi’s 55 percent.

Just as a barometer, Forbes has the Houston Astros valued at $549 million, even though they sold for $620 million last year. Don’t forget, the sale came with a $70 million discount because the Astros are moving to the AL.

So, is there a good chance the M’s are worth even more than Forbes says? Oh, yes.

Especially when every expert you talk to about media rights predicts the team will score big when it can exercise the 2015 opt out clause in its deal with ROOT Sports.

Oh yeah, Forbes says the Mariners actually posted an operating surplus of $2.2 million last year. It’s all in the accounting. The team says its losses came for a $9 million upgrade for stadium scoreboards and other infrastructure. If you count that onetime expense as part of normal operations, they lost money. If you consider it a onetime extraordinary charge, they made money.

In the end, the upgrades should only enhance franchise value. Just as a paint job on your Ouse hopefully ups the sale price.

Speaking of sale, anyone else notice how nicely the team wrapped up a 20-year spring training extension, right around the time it’s paring payroll and waiting for most long term deals to expire next year?

Just in time for a new cash windfall from TV? Heck, if I wanted to buy a team, the Mariners would start to look very attractive. Safeco Field still looks great and has new scoreboards to boot! Long term, the business is real, real healthy.

Why should you care as fans? Well, 95 to 100 losses per year to start. This team has the resources and ability to be spending more than it is and rebuilding a lot quicker.

Other than that, no reason. Rest assured,

the team is not suffering financially and should be here long after you and I are distant memories.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



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