The Business A Class A minor-league baseball team in the Southeast -- a team so prized by its home city that the stadium is maintained for free. The franchise's 25 players are "free," too -- paid and equipped by its major-league affiliate (in this case, a highly visible club). The rest of the operation includes seven full-time employees and up to 100 game-day workers. Revenues come mainly from ballpark concessions and novelties (42%), ticket sales (28%), and advertising (21%).

Financial Summary 1989 1990 1991*

Gross revenues $887,000 $1.1 million $1.2 million

Net profit before taxes profitable** profitable** profitable**

& owner compensation

* Projected

** Selling a baseball club is an unusually secretive endeavor; figures are confidential to protect the seller's anonymity.

Price $2.5 million to $3 million

Outlook Minor-league franchises almost never make money operationally but almost always do when it comes time to sell. Baseball remains America's best-loved sport, and cachet begets cash -- here in the form of consistent asset appreciation.

Price Rationale While major-league franchises sell for anywhere between one and two-and-a-half times gross, minor-league transactions often violate even those almost uselessly vague multiples. Reportedly, only two Class A teams have fetched more than $3 million; insiders say most go for between $1 million and $2 million these days. This team's sweetheart stadium lease, gross revenues, and consistently large draw make it a big hitter by minor-league standards. But the price still looks ambitious -- few expect the owner will get it.

Pros Baseball clubs -- even minor-league ones -- are a limited resource, and as franchises go, this one is strong: great fan demographics, an excellent attendance record, and a perennially popular major-league affiliate. Besides, they're fun. Doesn't this opportunity speak to the George Steinbrenner, Bill Veeck, and Charles O. Finley in all of us?

Cons Judged strictly as a business, this enterprise -- like every other baseball team -- is overvalued. The real question for would-be buyers: how expensive do you like your toys?

-- Alessandra Bianchi

Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured. The magazine cannot confirm the accuracy of financial or other information offered by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Bob Richmond, 602-483-8224. n