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October 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Latest Bloomberg estimate suggests Mariners value up near $1 billion

Bloomberg News spent months analyzing MLB teams and came up with the conclusion that they are now worth 35 percent more on average than the previous highest estimates.

One problem with their $720 million estimate on the Mariners — they left blank any value of the team’s new majority stake in the ROOT Sports regional sports network (RSN). This is because — I’ve had confirmed by sources this afternoon — Bloomberg was using calculations from 2012 and did not incorporate the team’s April RSN acquisition into the equation.

According to Bloomberg, the 10 MLB teams now worth $1 billion or more all have ownership stakes in their own RSN. The story estimates the average value of a team stake in an RSN to be worth $360 million.

So, if we assume the Mariners have just an average RSN stake in terms of worth, the value of their team would be nearly $1.1 billion. But we don’t know what the RSN is worth, and there are some benefits the Mariners already enjoyed in their local TV setup and potential that had boosted franchise value ahead of the actual RSN deal — meaning we could be double-counting certain areas if we just slapped $360 million on top of the $720 million.

But we’ve also heard the Mariners state that their RSN deal is among the better ones in baseball. So, it’s possible their RSN stake could be worth more than $360 million. We just don’t have that information right now. All we know is, their $720 million base is the highest pre-RSN estimate we’ve seen yet from a major business publication.

This falls in line with what we’ve been saying and writing the past two years about the team’s soaring franchise value, most recently a few weeks back when the season ended.

You’ll remember that two years ago, a judge in the divorce case of team owner Chris Larson pegged the Mariners at a franchise value of $641 million. That was his splitting of two estimates by franchise valuation experts that placed the team’s worth between $551 million and $750 million.

Remember, both of those estimates and the judge’s ruling were on franchise value before the team acquired its own RSN. In other words, the Bloomberg story’s $720 million estimate before the RSN is factored in appears more or less in line with the higher end $750 million figure that a franchise valuation expert from Texas testified to two years ago in the Larson case.

The only question remaining is the worth of Seattle’s RSN and whether it is below or above the $360 million average MLB team stake.

Other things that jumped out from the Bloomberg story?

My favorite was the Oakland Athletics PR rep stating via email that he believes the team would sell for $700 million and that Bloomberg’s estimate was low-end.

Once again, this might be news to A’s fans who have spent years watching GM Billy Beane try to weave his Moneyball magic under the guise that the A’s can’t really afford top free agents because they lack a proper stadium deal. No doubt, the A’s play in a terrible stadium. But if the A’s really are a $700 million team, it makes you wonder whether they could afford to field squads with a few more holes plugged that can maybe get them through the opening playoff rounds?

Oh yeah, and if the A’s really are a $700 million team in real life, sewage-infested ballpark and all, then the Mariners are worth a lot more than $720 million when you factor in Safeco Field and the team’s new RSN acquisition.

Depending on the value of the RSN stake, they could very well be a top-10 team in terms of value.

Payroll? Not exactly.





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