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Buying The Braves, 3D Hi-Def and The Best Sweepstakes Ever

Tuesday, 13 Feb 2007 | 10:23 AM ET

Why Would You Buy The Braves?

Time Warner reached a deal Monday to sell the Atlanta Braves to Liberty Media Corp., according to the Wall Street Journal. The Braves are supposedly valued at 460 million, but I'd say it's too much. Public companies have no business owning sports teams. They, for the most part, don't make rational sense. (OK, NFL teams do, but the league prohibits public ownership of their teams.) Here's why: Ask any sports owner who has been in it long enough and he will tell you that good business goes out the window when you realize you have to "invest" to win. Then you take a look at the Braves and that doesn't exactly scream "wise buy" to me. It doesn't take a genius to interpret that only in Atlanta has year after year of success of the field translated into a complacency that has actually led an attendance slump. Drawing anything more than 34,000 at Turner Field for a game is a shock these days.

Three Times As Good:
Thanks to a collaboration with the people at a company called Pace, the NBA will televise the first live sports broadcast in 3D HD to a select few at the Mandalay Bay this weekend during the All-Star Game. I've seen it. An NBA game in 3D HD is a pretty cool thing. When you see the shots close to the floor, it feels like you're sitting in one of those $1,400 seats. I'll never forget a couple years ago, at the NBA Technology Summit, when Mark Cuban said that the future of television was in HD, while Fox Sports chairman David Hill insisted it was in 3D. Perhaps they were both right. This type of technology, in a live game format, will first hit theatres and arenas – like when a team goes on the road during the Finals. But I'm told that there's anticipation that 3D could come to your average home set at a reasonable price by the year 2017 – Philips, Toshiba and Sharp are already reportedly working on the technology. While glasses currently have to be used, it has been speculated that in a decade's time, you'll be able to see 3D without assistance. Pace is a private company which is part-owned by filmmaker James Cameron.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and DEI:
Much has been made over the last couple days of this new DEI president Max Siegel, the man leading "Operation Keep Dale Earnhardt Jr." I respect that Siegel is a lawyer who graduated from Notre Dame and has plenty of experience in the sports world. But here's all you need to know, folks. DEI doesn't have any leverage. Sounds to me that Dale Jr. is sick of working for his daddy's legacy. He wants an ownership piece and you know what? Good for him. DEI is nothing without Dale Earnhardt Jr., but Dale Earnhardt Jr. is plenty without DEI. For years, Earnhardt Jr. was treated as if he owed DEI everything – even after he earned his keep in the racing world. Just days after I reported that Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s name was owned by his stepmother Theresa, Theresa agreed to give the rights back to him. Ever since then, I've been rooting for Dale Jr.'s independence.

B is Barbaro and BUY?
The burial site for Barbaro is still undecided, but we're watching Churchill Downs stock climb – it's up 5.7 percent since his death -- and we can't help but think people are latching onto the Barbaro shrine theory. As we called the day after Barbaro's death right here in this space: if the track lands Barbaro, it will create a nice year-round revenue stream that shareholders should be psyched about.

Business of Dog Shows:
Smart businessmen buy sports teams even if they know it's going to be a losing proposition on the balance sheet. Having spent a day with the dogs at the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, I can say this. There's no chance some of these top competitors are doing anything but hemorrhaging money. Most of the owners told me they spend in between $10,000 and $60,000 a year showing their dogs and much of the cost comes in advertising their dogs in periodicals. This is basically to let those in the industry know that their dog is winning. It's a crazy business and, unlike the horse business, there's no chance of a tax deduction.

Best Sweepstakes:
There are a lot of companies that send me news releases about their upcoming promotions and I fall asleep before I get to the bottom. But the Crown Royal Presents "The Your Name Here 400" is one of the best promotions I've ever seen in all my years of covering the business of sports. This week, Crown Royal will announce which finalist will have his or her name on the NASCAR race at the Richmond International Speedway. The winner will be recognized by broadcast and media partners and will be the guest of honor at the race. More than 30,000 entries of a "Crown-worthy" moment were submitted between May and November.

Sports Networking:
Ever since Sports Illustrated bought sports fan networking siteFannation.com for a reported $20 million a couple weeks ago, I've been getting plenty of notes on the growth of sports networking sites. I've known about sportsmates.com for a while now, but this week I was introduced to sportsvite.com. The site, meant to be a service to join recreational athletes with teams and leagues, secured up to $2 million in financing from Grace Drive Management, an alternative investment fund based in New York.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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