19 April 2007

Forbes says $292 million

It's the second week of the season, which means it's time for Forbes to release its list of MLB team valuations. The usual suspects (Yanks, Mets, BoSox, Dodgers, Cubs) lead the pack. Towards the bottom of the list, the A's estimated value jumped 24% to $292 million. That compares to the league averages of 15% rise in value and $431 million.

In the meantime, the A's payroll has gone up much more gradually, only 1.3% from 2005 to 2006 and 6.7% from 2006 to 2007. Before you start on that angry e-mail to Lew Wolff and Billy Beane about how they could've afforded Frank Thomas or, um, someone other desirable free agent, take a look at the following table:

The payroll cost as a function of revenue is the key indicator. That was driven down from well over 60% to just under 55%. The owners must've gotten the memo from Bud Selig to go with the program and keep that player cost at that comfortable 55% threshold. Should franchise value go up again next season, I would expect payroll to jump a proportional amount. If growth is flat, payroll should stay flat.

However, that player cost as a function of value is intriguing. It's akin to home equity, and it will come handy when the time comes to borrow for Cisco Field. It's likely that the media buzz around Cisco Field helped drive the rise in valuation.

The A's ranked 24th on the list and were surrounded by familiar faces: Florida, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and Cincinnati. Of those teams, the Royals pulled in an astounding $32 million in revenue sharing last year. The Marlins made $43 million (EBITDA) in 2007. It just so happens that the state/local governments and the Marlins are $30 million apart ($60 million over 30 years) in their efforts to fund a new Miami-area ballpark. How about applying some of that profit to bridge the gap and gain some seriously positive PR in the process? Perhaps that's too much for Jeff Loria and David Samson to be magnanimous.