The money may be too much and there may be no other options, but word today from Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter) is that Drayton McLane is slowly “wearing down” owner resistance to the sale of the Astros Jim Crane.
The reason could boil down to there simply being no other owner candidate that can offer up a deal that matches the $680 million that Crane’s group is offering.
And, as we reported first here on The Biz of Baseball, the Astros will stay in the National League for 2012, but the deal to approve Crane would have him move the club to the AL in 2013.
The move would do two things: Crane gets one year in the NL and thus, time to allow set the roster based on the AL West as opposed to NL Central, and a year to get marketing set. In return, MLB gets balanced leagues for a more graceful way to do expanded playoffs (league sources inform that even without realignment, they could move forward with the additional Wild Cards but would require Interleague daily due to unbalanced leagues).
How is McLane making the sale? One irrefutable fact is that with the deal being the second-highest sale price ever behind only the Cubs, the value of all clubs increases. Based on the most recent numbers, the $680 million sale price would be a 43.46% increase above the $474 million Forbes has the Astros valuated at (the valuation does not include the new regional sports network that the Astros will partially own, which surely increases the value for the sale).
As to all the nastiness that has stopped Crane’s approval, if you can’t find someone to fill the void, the owners that have shown resistance may buckle. There are some parallels to what happened with Frank McCourt’s approval (he was not the first choice but the league had little choice at the time to approve), so the owners might wince at approving Crane.
There’s always been a sense that Crane would be approved. Maybe it’s coming soon. Maybe it will be after the season ends. Maybe, it won’t happen at all. But, you can rest assured, Drayton McLane is doing everything in his power to complete the sale and get out of the baseball business.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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