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MLB Club Sales
News and information about the sale of all or part of any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

Sale of Padres Approved by MLB's Owners PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 16 August 2012 16:58
San Diego Padres

Major League Baseball approved the sale of the San Diego Padres from John Moores to the group led by the Seidler/O’Malley families and Ron Fowler during its quarterly meetings, today in Milwaukee, MLB Commissioner Selig announced today.  Mr. Fowler will serve as the new ownership group’s control person.  The involvement of the grandchildren of Walter O’Malley – as represented by the Seidler/O’Malley interests in the team - marks the return to Major League Baseball ownership for his family. Walter O’Malley owned the Dodgers in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles from 1950 to 1979 while his son Peter ran the club after till 1998 when the club was sold to New Corp.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am pleased to congratulate Ron Fowler, the Seidler and O’Malley families and all of their partners as they become the new stewards of the San Diego Padres.  With significant local representation and extensive baseball experience, this group understands the Padres’ binding role in the community, and I believe that its collective long-term vision and passion will serve the fans of San Diego well in the years ahead.

“I appreciate all that John Moores has done for the City of San Diego and applaud his exceptional sense of personal philanthropy, which has benefited many worthy local causes since his purchase of the Club in 1994.  I wish John and his family all the best.”

The sale has been reported to be $800 million with $200 million of that as upfront money Moores receives as part of the media rights deal with Fox Sports San Diego that that Padres brokered prior to the beginning of this season.


Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. 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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The McCourt Era Is Over as Sale of Dodgers Complete PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 13:32
Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers
It's over... Frank McCourt has officially left Dodger Stadium

The sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers took an extra day to complete, but it’s finally over. With it, Frank McCourt is out and new ownership that sees Ervin “Magic” Johnson and former Braves and Nationals exec. Stan Kasten, is in.

I go over it all in detail for Baseball Prospectus, including the fact that McCourt was never considered the front runner to begin with:

The Los Angeles Dodgers stated, “The Dodgers emerge from the Chapter 11 reorganization process having achieved its objective of maximizing the value of the Dodgers through a successful Plan of Reorganization, under which all claims will be paid. The Dodgers move forward with confidence - in a strong financial position; as a premier Major League Baseball franchise; and as an integral part of and representative of the Los Angeles community.”

Three-thousand and fifteen days. Or, eight years, three months, and two days. That’s how long Frank McCourt owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. His tenure now over, $1.588 billion cash has been moved out of escrow from Guggenheim Baseball Management, making the sale final. As part of the sale, GBM will assume $412 million in debt that the Dodgers have incurred under McCourt’s watch, and with it, the new owners get the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, and the land upon which Dodger Stadium is built. In a separate deal for $150 million, GMB will partner with McCourt to develop the land around Dodger Stadium. But while McCourt is a partner, he does not get the revenue from the parking lots; that will go to GMB.

The deal had been set to close on Monday because McCourt owes his former wife, Jamie, $131 million as part of his divorce settlement.  McCourt had wisely set up “bridge funding” for $140 million in case the deal did not occur on time. Due to the complexities of the deal—one that has been called the most complex sports franchise sale ever—an agreement was not reached until Tuesday. After settling with his former wife, Jamie, Frank McCourt will walk away with $1.457 billion outside of the $150 million land sale. They say you should never reward bad behavior, but apparently, McCourt didn’t get that memo.

Read the rest of the story. It’s one that I’m particularly proud of.


Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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Closing of the $2.15 Billion Dodgers Sale Delayed PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 30 April 2012 22:34

Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers

The record $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers will not close on time. As the clock continues to click, the April 30 date that had been targeted to match a $131 million divorce payment to Frank McCourt’s former wife Jamie will not happen, according to anonymous sources to the Los Angeles Times. McCourt had already got a $140 million “bridge loan” to ensure that if Guggenheim Baseball Management – the group led by Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, and Stan Kasten, missed the date; he could ensure payment to his former wife.

Exact reasons for why the deal did not close on time have not yet surfaced. A source to The Biz of Baseball would only say that closing the sale “hit a snag.”

While there is a delay, there is no sense from sources that the sale is in jeopardy. According to the LA Times article, the hope is that the deal will now close on Tuesday.

MORE DETAILS AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE


Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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Court Set to Approve $2.15 Billion Sale of the Dodgers on Friday PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 20:10

Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers

The final potential hurdle in the $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to a group led by Magic Johnson appears to be on the cusp. According to the LA Times, the Dodgers have agreed to provide written confirmation to FOX Sport that Time Warner Cable will not be directly or indirectly involved in the purchase of the club. According to the report:

Under its settlement with the Dodgers, Fox had the right to challenge any sale in which rival Time Warner Cable was involved. The Dodgers already had told the court that TWC was not involved, but Fox asked for assurances from the new owners.

FOX, who is the current broadcast partner of the Dodgers, filed papers asking for reassurance that Time Warner would not somehow be tied directly to the club. FOX Sports, through PrimeTicket, have right of first negotiation for a new broadcast agreement in November of this year. The contract expires at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

The upcoming broadcast deal will likely see a floor of $4 billion and could go for as much as $5 billion. FOX, TWC, and possibly CBS have all been mentioned. The Dodgers might also start their own regional sports network.

On Friday, US Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross is expected to approve the sale. The deal is expected to be finalized no later than Monday, April 30. That day current Dodgers owner Frank McCourt owes his former wife Jamie $131 million as part of their divorce settlement.

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Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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Dodgers Expect to Exit Bankruptcy, File Documents with Court PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 06 April 2012 15:55

Dodgers Sale

In a sign that the sale of the Dodgers is progressing, the club announced today their debtors that they expect to emerge from their chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization cases at the end of the month, as has been the plan by the Dodgers and MLB since Frank McCourt and the league agreed to the process of the sale. The reorganization would comes as part of the confirmation hearing which is scheduled for April 13th in the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.

In filings today with the court, the Dodgers presented several documents including an Amended Plan of Reorganization, a Plan Supplement to the Amended Plan of Reorganization, a Proposed Confirmation Order, and a Memorandum in Support of Confirmation of the Amended Plan.

The Dodgers said in a statement, “The amended Plan of Reorganization, among other things, provides for the payment of all allowed claims of creditors in full, includes a substantial distribution for debtors’ equity interest holder, and provides a solid foundation for the long term success of Los Angeles Dodgers and its affiliates.”

The Dodgers added, “The centerpiece of the Amended Plan is the agreement by Guggenheim Baseball L.P. to pay $2 billion to acquire the equity of the reorganized debtors. This agreement is the culmination of an auction process that was conducted over several months and reflects the highest and best bid generated by that process. The successful auction process attracted numerous prospective purchasers and numerous proposals, all of which confirmed the substantial value of the Dodgers, the media rights associated with the team, and Dodger Stadium.”

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Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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McCOURT REACHES SALE AGREEMENT WITH MAGIC JOHNSON FOR DODGERS AT RECORD $2.15B PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 23:15

Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

It took less than a day for Frank McCourt to make his decision in the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, going with what is likely the highest bid amount, but likely to have less cash. The Dodgers and McCourt announced an agreement under which Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC (“GBM”) will acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion upon completion of the closing process. If completed at the price agreed upon, it will smash the total amount ever paid for a North American sports franchise and become the highest amount ever paid for a sports franchise. That record currently belongs to the sale of the Miami Dolphins to Stephen Ross for $1.1 billion.

The purchasing group includes Mark R. Walter as its controlling partner, as well as Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Mr. McCourt and certain affiliates of the purchasers will also be forming a joint venture, which will acquire the Chavez Ravine property for an additional $150 million.

The Los Angeles Dodgers stated, “This transaction underscores the Debtors’ objective to maximize the value of their estate and to emerge from Chapter 11 under a successful Plan of Reorganization, under which all creditors are paid in full.”

Frank McCourt stated, “This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community. We are delighted that this group will continue the important work we have started in the community, fulfilling our commitment to building 50 Dream Fields and helping with the effort to cure cancer.”

Earvin "Magic" Johnson stated, "I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles."

The group that sees a strong LA presence also see Guggenheim Partners, of which Walters is the CEO, financing a large part of the deal. While we have been predicting that the deal would come down to Magic Johnson's group and the group led by hedge-fund magnate Steven Cohen, most believed Cohen would be selected due to the massive cash equity structure that saw $900 million in cash. The Johnson group will have to finance the majority of the deal.

Those watching the sale had wondered how Magic, with a smaller investment in the group, would factor in terms of controlling partner. If he had been made controlling partner, he would have become MLB's first African-American majority owner.

The deal is far from done, however. Depending on the structure, with the sale price being so high, MLB has the right to review the structure of the deal based on concerns of debt. As of publication, The Biz of Baseball had not heard whether the league would exercise that right. To add, McCourt must get a US Bankruptcy Court to approve the sales agreement by April 13. Also, Guggenheim Baseball Management has between now and just before April 30 to close the deal. McCourt is scheduled to make a $131 million payment to his former wife Jamie as part of their divorce.

In November of last year, we targeted the sale price of the Dodgers at $1.5 billion.

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Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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Report: Sale of Los Angeles Dodgers Down to Three Bidders PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 23 March 2012 19:18

Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers

And then there were three? According to a report by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers is down to three bidders: Steven Cohen, Magic Johnson, and Stan Kroenke. The three were projected to be the finalists with it all eventually coming down to Cohen and Johnson. As reported prior, Cohen is said to have $900 million in cash in the $1.4 billion bid, while Johnson’s bid is the highest at $1.6 billion. Kroenke is said to have the second highest amount of cash equity in his offer.

As reported for Baseball Prospectus, there are strengths and weaknesses in each of the bids:

Cohen:
Strength: Cash. Lots of it. Highest amount of any of the bids. Has added Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles, to his group. With all the cash, Cohen can make upgrades to Dodger Stadium (he has already contacted global facility designer Populous --the former HOK Sport -- to look into improvements).
Weaknesses: Other than Soon-Shiong, there is no “Los Angeles” presence with the group. Former MLB deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg is considered somewhat weak from an operations perspective, as is Tony La Russa. Super-agent Arn Tellem is in the mix, which is good (talent evaluation) and bad (an agent in the front office, something owners may frown at).

Johnson:
Strengths: Has former Nationals president Stan Kasten as a co-member of his group, adding a strong operational presence. Throw in Peter Guber, who is the chairman and chief executive of Mandalay Entertainment, which is invested in the successful Dayton Dragons minor league team; and Mark Walter, the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, the private global financial services firm. The biggest strength may be Johnson’s legendary spot in LA Laker history and his prominence as a business tycoon after in the Los Angeles area. Where Cohen is weak on the LA presence, Magic’s group embraces it. Johnson’s group does, however, have the highest total bid in at $1.6 billion
Weakness: Lack of cash in the initial offer. If reports are correct, Magic’s group is third in this department. With the looming television rights deal, MLB is leery of leveraging the rights deal to make improvements in the player roster and Dodger Stadium.

Kroenke:
Strengths: A large offer, that sees the second highest amount of cash behind only Cohen. He also is exceptionally well versed in ownership. He owns Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which includes the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, and the St. Louis Rams of the NFL (the Colorado sports properties are in the name of Josh Kroenke, one of his children, to satisfy NFL ownership restrictions that forbid a team owner from owning teams in other markets). He is also the majority shareholder of English football club Arsenal.
Weakness: Cross-ownership concerns across leagues, especially in light of the fact that the NFL is looking to get back into LA. The land around Dodger Stadium is enticing from a development standpoint for all those bidding, but Kroenke could certainly see it as an opportunity to bring the Rams back to LA and build an NFL facility on the land around Dodger Stadium. The problem is, Frank McCourt has yet to relinquish the land (130 acres).

Final notes…

The real bidding will come after the league’s owners approves the three. That will reportedly happen on March 27, and shortly thereafter (that night or the next day), the three will jockey for position with McCourt to gain his approval to negotiate exclusively to close the sale between April 1-April 30 when the deal is to close (McCourt is scheduled to pay his former wife Jamie $131 million as part of a divorce settlement on April 30).

The wild cards in all of this are the parking lots and the television rights for the Dodgers. If McCourt holds to his want of leasing the parking lots as opposed to selling, bids could actually come down. On the television rights, current broadcast partner FOX Sports as well as Time Warner cable will look to become minority partners either in the creation of a regional sports network (RSN) such as the league sees with YES, NESN, MASN and others, or reach a separate deal outside of an RSN. Either way, The Biz of Baseball is projecting a deal that would be in the $5-$7 billion range, possibly higher.


Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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While Lower Offer, Steve Cohen’s $900M Cash Equity for Dodgers Sets the Bar PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 00:41

Sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers

The deal isn’t over yet. Not quite. But, if a report by Mike Ozanian of Forbes SportsMoney holds true, we know where the bars are set to get the deal finalized in the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The seven finalists met with league execs today in Phoenix to give offers that would include the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium and other assets associated to the club, but not the parking lots. All bids had the parking lots under a lease arrangement that would allow Frank McCourt to still control that aspect.

Even with the parking lots in a lease agreement, the numbers are eye-popping, and makes the $1.5 billion projection I had in Nov. of last year come off as more of an average than the high-water mark.  From SportsMoney:

The highest bid was $1.6 billion, from former Los Angeles Lakers great Johnson and former baseball executive Kasten, whose purchase would be partially financed by private equity. But the owners were extremely impressed with the make up of [Steve] Cohen’s bid, according to my source, which was $1.4 billion but included an astounding $900 million of equity. “There were five strong bids,” said the source, who did not have permission to speak of the negotiations publicly. The lowest bid from the five groups was $1.3 billion.

Ozanian reported further that MLB was not as impressed with the structure of the bids by “the group led Leo Hindery, managing partner of the private equity firm InterMedia Partners and former chief executive officer of the YES Network, or by (the) offer made by real estate developer Alan Casden.”

And, it’s the “structure” of the offers that are critical.

As of January, court documents showed that the Dodgers were $573 million in debt. Throw in the $131 million payment that Frank McCourt must pay his former wife Jamie by the end of April, and you get a good sense of what a competitive bid would want to have in cash to truly set the bar: $704 million.

Ozanian’s report does not specify what the Magic/Kasten group has as a cash equity component, just that the $1.6 billion highest offer “would be partially financed by private equity.” Cohen, on the other hand, blasts through the ceiling providing a $196 million cushion if those January numbers still hold water (which they most certainly don’t given interest, etc).

To place just the $900 million cash equity component in Cohen’s offer in perspective, just that alone would be more than any amount offered in a club sale in MLB by $55 million (Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago for $845 million in August of 2009). That $55 million gap would have been more than the Opening Day payrolls of six clubs last season.

So, with Cohen meeting with Frank McCourt at the Dodgers Spring Training facility this weekend, and the cash in the deal, he’s a shoo-in, right? Maybe.

Bidding is not completed. If the Ozanian is correct, then Magic and Kasten know what they have to consider targeting in the cash department. And, it’s not just that group. Others in the mix will have to see if the total amount in the deal that Magic/Kasten have on the table and the cash equity amount Cohen has offered can be matched. In other words, Ozanian’s report is likely to gin everyone up that is serious about getting the deal finalized.

To add to it all, over all of this is the media rights deal that is looming. That’s the real driver in why the amounts are so incredibly high in the deal. Remember, if Cohen wins, the sale would be a staggering $555 million over the highest sale, ever. Magic’s would be higher still at $755 million over that same mark that the Cubs hold. Magic's numbers over the Cubs sale would be enough to cover the entire amount that Jim Crane paid for the Astros ($610 million) in November of last year, which was the second-highest ever paid for an MLB club, and have $145 million left over.

Final word… When Forbes releases its latest valuation of the 30 clubs in MLB, the Dodgers will be one of the highest gainers due to the television deal in play. But, to add one more eye-popping stat out there, last year, Forbes valued the Dodgers #3 in the league at $800 million, or one-half of what the Magic/Kasten group currently has on the table. You can now pick your jaw up off the ground.


Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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Settlement Between Dodgers and Fox Smooths Way For Sale PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 16:48

DodgersThe legal dispute between FOX Sports and the Dodgers over media rights has been settled in a Delaware bankruptcy court. The Dodgers had been looking to put the media rights for the Dodgers up for sale ahead of the expiration of the current agreement the LA club has with FOX. That contract has FOX having the rights to bid first as early as Nov. of this year, and does not allow for other broadcasters to negotiate for those rights until early 2013. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt argued that by adding in the media rights now as part of the sale of the club, more money would be secured for creditors as part of the sale, set to occur before April.

“The agreement with Fox clears the path for the Dodgers to sell the team on schedule and to maximize the value of the debtors’ estate,” said Sid Levinson, and attorney for the Dodgers to bankruptcy judge, Kevin Gross.

The case had large implications to the broadcast industry. Ostensibly, a ruling in the Dodgers’ favor would set a precedence by which other broadcast deals could be nullified in advance of expiration if a sports club were to enter bankruptcy.

But, that was likely to not be the case. While Judge Gross ruled in favor of the Dodgers, an appeals judge noted at hearing that Gross had erred in his decision, thus setting the stage for a reversal. The settlement was the outcome of that looming over the case.

The sale, which sees a star studded collection of bidders from groups with Magic Johnson, Mark Cuban, Joe Torre, Steve Garvey, Fred Claire, and others, could fetch in excess of $1.2 billion. The amount of cash in the deal will weigh heavily in the court’s decision as it allows the creditors to be quickly paid.


Maury BrownMaury 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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus 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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Jim Crane Unanimously Approved as New Owner of the Houston Astros PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 17 November 2011 09:13

Jim Crane

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS....

Persistence has paid off for Jim Crane. After backing out at the 11th hour in 2008 for the purchase of the Astros, being in the bidding for the Cubs in 2009 and losing out at auction to a group that included Nolan Ryan for Rangers in 2010, he’s gone “back to the future” with unanimous approval from MLB’s owners for the $680 million sale for the Astros from Drayton McLane.

As part of the sale, Crane has agreed to move the Astros to the American League in 2013 as part of the league and MLBPA’s want for a balance of 15 teams each between the AL and NL and each of Major League Baseball’s six divisions will be comprised of five Clubs for the first time. With 15 teams in each league, MLB will see some form of interleague play daily for the first time.

Commissioner Selig said of the sale to Crane, “I welcome Jim Crane and his group as they prepare to become the new stewards of the Astros.  I thank them for their patience and determination throughout a long but necessary process, which allowed us to accomplish our due diligence. The enthusiasm of Jim and his group will serve the Astros and their fans very well in the years ahead.

“I congratulate Drayton McLane on his 19 years of leadership of the Houston Astros, a franchise in which he has rightfully taken great pride.  Drayton’s ownership produced six Postseason berths, the Club’s first National League pennant, a ballpark that is among the finest in the sport, and many contributions that have impacted the communities of Houston and throughout his home state of Texas.  On behalf of Major League Baseball, I thank Drayton for his service to our game and I wish him and his family all the best.”

As it impacts the value of a new regional sports network being launched by the Astros, Houston Rockets, and Comcast, Crane and his large investor group reached a $70 million compensation package with $35 million coming from MLB and Drayton McLane agreeing to reduce the overall sale price by $35 million. That means that technically, the Astros sale will total $610 million, still the second-highest sale price for an MLB club behind only the Chicago Cubs.

The other principal investors in Crane's group include John Havens, Bill Morgan, Doug Bauer, John Hauck & TSI Holding Company, Greg Allen & family, Neil Kelley & Partners, Will Galtney, John Eddie Williams & Cary Patterson and Milton Carroll & Partners.

The vote to approve Crane was delayed in August of this year over several factors. The contentious bankruptcy of the Dodgers and the divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt had the owners looking for more information about Crane and his investor group. Also, there were concerns after Crane backed out of the 2008 sale of the Astros with McLane. The now former owner of the Astros was said to be very upset and made it known to the other 29 owners during Crane’s attempts to purchase the Cubs and Rangers.

Over recent months, through at least one face-to-face meeting between Crane and Selig, that level of concern by owners and the commissioner appears to have subsided and negotiations for balancing out the leagues came into focus.

The Astros have called at 3:30pm CT press conference at Minute Maid Park where Crane will address the media.


Maury BrownMaury 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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