On Wednesday, Forbes published its list of most valuable minor league teams. The St. Louis Cardinals’ affiliate in Memphis is tied for eighth on the list. The Redbirds are worth an estimated $29 million with an estimated $9.5 million in annual revenue and a yearly operating loss of $1 million.
In recent months, the parent Cardinals were part of renewed talks to buy the financially-troubled Redbirds. (Back in late 2008, St. Louis had a letter of intent in place to purchase the Redbirds, but ultimately decided not to pursue the matter further.)
The current situation remains complicated due to defaulted bonds associated with the building of AutoZone Park and a private equity firm, Fundamental Advisors, now holding control of the team and facility.
One rumored potential solution is for the City of Memphis to purchase the stadium and the Cardinals to acquire the team. Yet, that kind of deal may never come together and if it did, it would surely take some time to negotiate.
In the interim, a facilities management company, Global Spectrum, is handling the business side of the Redbirds operation. St. Louis’ current player development agreement with the Redbirds runs through the 2014 season. The two have been linked since 1998.
Forbes’ process in valuing clubs was to start with the 160 affiliated minor league teams, and whittle them down to the top 35 in 2012 attendance. That makes sense since minor league income is almost entirely dependent on ballpark-related revenue streams such as ticket sales, luxury suites, parking, concessions, stadium naming rights and sponsorships.
Full details, including a slideshow of the 20 most-valuable teams, can be found here.