Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Forbes: value of Nets leaps 48%, to $530 million, upon Brooklyn move (were all those subsidies needed?)

From Forbes on the Nets
The annual Forbes list of NBA team valuations came out last week, and while the Knicks and Lakers got notice for being worth more than $1 billion, the 48% rise in value of the Brooklyn Nets, bringing the team value to $530 million even before assessing the full impact of the new arena and location, is astonishing.

Forbes reported:
The increase is due to higher revenue from television, new and renovated arenas, and the NBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement, which reduced player costs from 57% of revenues to roughly 50%. The labor deal also increased the amount of money high-revenue teams provide low-revenue teams.
Also, player costs went down because of the lockout, though the latter didn't affect some locked-in revenues.

Nets value leaps

The Nets were big winners:
The move from New Jersey to the $1 billion Barclays Center has transformed the team from one of the league’s financial laggards to one of its elite, with luxurious floor level suites that rent for $550,000 a year.
(Actually, the arena cost $845 million, as Forbes states elsewhere.)

Shouldn't this news make New York City and State officials rethink their pattern of agreeing to renegotiate deals for the Vanderbilt Yard and other subsidies/project benefits?

According to the Forbes page on the Nets:
The Nets posted the NBA’s second-biggest operating loss in their final season playing in Newark’s Prudential Center, but it is a new era for the Nets after their move to Brooklyn and the opening of the Barclays Center. Jay-Z, a small investor in the Nets, opened the arena to rave reviews with a series of eight concerts in the fall. The team is adding the NHL's Islanders as a tenant starting in 2015, which will help offset the arena's operating expenses. Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns 80% of the Nets and a 45% stake in the arena, while real estate developer Bruce Ratner owns a controlling interest in the Barclays Center and will operate the arena. Ratner also owns 20% of the basketball team.
Note that the Nets are worth $292 million alone--near what each of Prokhorov and Ratner put in, albeit before paying for losses--based on NBA revenue sharing.

Now the revenue sharing figure may adjust down because of the Brooklyn move, but surely the team's value attributable to city and market size, to arena, and to brand--all far, far lower than the comparable figures for the Knicks--will grow.

In other words, Ratner and Prokhorov--buying into a new arena, and new market--made a very smart deal, however long it took. (They don't own the arena, just the operating company. Remember, the arena is "publicly owned," for purposes of issuing tax-exempt bonds.)

And since Ratner and parent company Forest City Enterprises have considered selling the team, now might be a good time to take some profits--or, they could wait and see the value grow even further.

(Here's one blogger who contends that, in the past, Forbes has actually undervalued teams, which sell for even more than estimated value.)

The value of TV

In The Celtics Score: How Boston's Value Doubled To $730 Million In Just 10 Years, Forbes explains how the Boston Celtics have done very, very well.
From Forbes on the Nets
In an era of ballooning television contracts fueling leaps in sports franchise values across every league, it’s easy to see why someone would–allegedly, mind you–offer up a ridiculous number for a team based in Boston, perhaps the most rabid sports market in the Western Hemisphere and home to a legacy that includes 17 NBA world championships. After ten years and hundreds of millions in added value under [Wyc] Grousbeck, the Celtics are primed to be flipped. You can’t blame someone for asking.

“It speaks to how valuable teams are becoming because of media rights,” he says. “Sports deliver the most valuable demographic to advertisers.”
This passage, in an article on The NBA's Billionaire Owners, doesn't quite make sense:
Wealthy owners certainly carry more value in smaller markets. Money for things like arena fix-ups, which [Paul] Allen largely financed for Portland’s Rose Garden, and brand new buildings to escape New Jersey in, which the Brooklyn Nets got thanks to [Mikhail] Prokhorov’s partial buyout of Bruce Ratner, can get done despite relatively limited cash flows.
Yes, Prokhorov bought most of the Nets and a 45% share of the arena operating company, but the arena relies even more on naming rights/sponsorships and other cash flow to pay back the $511 million in tax-exempt bonds.

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