There has been a touch of confusion in recent weeks over what Rogers’ plans for the Jays are, stemming from a Bloomberg report earlier this month in which the conglomerate’s CFO, Tony Staffieri was basically quoted as saying that a sale of the club was being considered. Mark Shapiro said last week on MLB Network Radio that he didn’t think the team was going to be sold — adding that “I’ve kind of been assured by them that’s not something they’re considering.”
Cue morons rushing to call the team president a liar. Or Rogers a bunch of liars. Or somebody a liar!
What may have actually been happening, though, is a misinterpretation of Staffieri’s original comments in the Bloomberg report — which, it’s worth noting, weren’t given as direct quotes. Or at least that’s what Alastair Sharp of Reuters seems to be telling us, as he offers the sharpest denial yet from Rogers, and some very intriguing possibilities for where all this talk might actually lead us.
Rogers’ new chief executive, Joe Natale, and Chief Financial Officer Tony Staffieri have said in separate conversations with investors since October that the Canadian cable TV and wireless company wants to “surface value” from the franchise.
Some people interpreted that to mean they were considering selling the team, which Forbes earlier this year valued at $1.3 billion.
In an emailed statement, Rogers spokeswoman Sarah Schmidt said: “As we have said, there are no plans to sell the Jays.”
Sharp goes on to lean on “two professional sports dealmakers” who suggest the club could “surface value” with a “sale and leaseback” of the stadium, or with naming rights (which seems to be an avenue the club is already moving down). But where it gets really interesting, I think, is with this idea:
Another option would be for family-controlled Rogers to spin off the team, creating a separate company that could tap debt markets to pay athlete salaries, finance stadium improvements and fund other operations, according to three industry dealmakers who declined to be identified because discussions about potential deals are confidential.
The current corporate structure at Rogers treats the team as a fully consolidated business unit, meaning that boosting spending to acquire top players would cut into the parent company’s earnings, which are closely watched by investors.
Having flexibility to spend more on talent, without worry about missing Wall Street earnings forecasts, could lead to more on-field success, which would boost long-term revenue from ticket sales, merchandising and broadcast rights, the sources said.
I have no idea how realistic any of this is — though I’m encouraged, perhaps naively (because I assure you, this business stuff really isn’t my domain), by fact that that Sharp’s sources for this part of the piece don’t want to be identified — but… uh… yes, please! Let’s do that one! The one where we get to actually have a real team and a real owner!
And if we could get this done, say, before Josh Donaldson leaves via free agency, that would just be downright peachy. Spanks!