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Rogers Firmly Tells Reuters They Have No Plans To Sell the Jays — But What They Might Be Considering Sounds Potentially Pretty Good!

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!

AMIRIGHT????

And if we could get this done, say, before Josh Donaldson leaves via free agency, that would just be downright peachy. Spanks!

  • Barry

    I guess that would sound good, but I guess that because I have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t even know what a debt market is. I assume it’s a real thing.

    I suppose it means having more money to spend, as long as the team is profitable. If we go through a rut, does it mean the spun-off version is less capable of sustaining a loss?

    Also, I’m kinda assuming that spinning off the Jays means spinning off Eddie, so Eddie would be more in charge than ever before. Maybe that’s a wrong assumption, but I feel like any chance they get to spin Eddie out of the Rogers board room is a chance they’ll jump at.

    Okay, that all sounds negative; on balance, I’m pretty enthused about the possibility of a loosening of the Rogers shackles.

    • The Humungus

      Essentially, what it’s saying is that under current corporate structure, Rogers has a significant amount of debt, which means they’d have to finance all of that stuff in-house with their liquid capital.

      If the team were to be spun off into a separate company, they’d be able to use the equity the holdings of that company (the team and the stadium) to finance large expenditures with debt, rather than having to use their own cash (which is limited)

    • sons

      Debt market = bonds
      Stock market = stocks

      You can obtain way more funds via the debt market because you (in theory) pay that money back and because it has seniority (in repayment) over shareholders.

      What this would presumably mean is that they could go and privately raise lots of money via debt issuance. For example go to the teacher’s pension and ask for a billion to reno and sign Harper (ha).

      It’s brilliant in this day and age where there’s more money (in the markets) than people know what to do with.

  • AD

    Pleaaaseee happen. If this means the jays can stop acting like a small/midmarket team then sign me up. Am guessing ed rogers would be principal owner in this scenario

  • Naylor01

    Jays should eat Kemp’s contact to take on prospects from the Dodgers. He’s terrible but this is the type of move they should do to build prospect capital. Since they most likely won’t be a playoff team this year.

  • Voidhelix

    A ‘moron’ according to Stoeten, is anyone who disagrees with either A) his opinion, or B) is passionately against the current ownership group. Personally, I would be of the belief that the public dissemination of rhetoric, might just be a means for Rogers to appease a fanbase growing uneasy at an almost total lack of activity. The one thing this creates is chaos. Chaos is the enemy of stability. Stability leads to success. End of Yoda-based rant.

    • The Humungus

      Except that, as mentioned above in my reply to Barry, there is a completely legitimate and reasonable financial motive behind this concept (investing in the franchise with debt rather than out of the current assets)

      • Teddy Ballgame

        It’s a bit more involved than that…moving the Jays out from under Rogers proper to either a related vehicle or a separate vehicle altogether. Obviously the other entity would ensure that broadcast rights and revenue stays with the parent company, with the operational costs siloed.

    • Here’s what doesn’t make sense. When people say they’re “passionately against the current ownership group”, they don’t actually see things for what they are. It becomes like playing politics – “all your decisions are wrong and lies and terrible”. The current ownership group does a LOT of stuff. Some of it works out, some of it doesn’t. For you to be “passionately against” this ownership group, it means you don’t really care what they do, you’re going to hate it regardless.

      It’s really easy to tune out people like that, because they’re relying not on logic or real arguments, but on vague, righteous indignation. You may not like the word “moron”, but we’re talking about a frigging baseball blog here, and y’know…meh.

  • Knuckleballs

    Based on the explanations here around all this business and the current business status of the club could explain the speaking in parables by shackins and company