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Former Texas Rangers President Appointed to Run Los Angeles Dodgers PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 25 April 2011 14:13

DodgersTHIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

When Commissioner Selig announced that MLB would be taking over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers because of his “deep concerns regarding the finances and operations” of the club, we threw out a couple of names that we thought might take the position of trustee. Few, if any, saw this one coming.

MLB has announced that Tom Schieffer, the former president of the Texas Rangers, as the Monitor of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise. Schieffer will represent the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball in the oversight of the day-to-day operations, business and finances of the Dodgers and all of the franchise’s related entities.

Schieffer, an investor in the ownership group headed by George W. Bush and Rusty Rose that purchased the Rangers in 1989, was the club president from 1991-1999 and the franchise’s general partner from November 1994 until June 1998. The Fort Worth native was the club’s partner in charge of ballpark development in advance of the 1994 opening of The Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers won their first three American League West titles (1996, 1998-1999) in club history in the years during Schieffer’s tenure.

As the president of the Rangers, Schieffer was a member of several significant Major League Baseball committees and boards, including the 1999 Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics. An attorney who specialized in oil and gas matters and investment management, the 63-year-old Schieffer served three terms as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives after being elected at the age of 25.

Schieffer, 63. is the older brother of CBS newsman, Bob Schieffer. He served as the United States Ambassador to Australia from 2001-2005 and then as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2005-2009 under President George W. Bush. In 2009, Schieffer was honored by the Department of Defense with its Distinguished Public Service Medal, the U.S. military’s highest civilian award.

Commissioner Selig said: “We are very fortunate to have someone of Tom Schieffer’s stature monitor the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers on behalf of Major League Baseball. Tom is a distinguished public servant who has represented the nation with excellence and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout his career. The many years that he spent managing the operations of a successful franchise will benefit the Dodgers and Major League Baseball as a whole. I am grateful for Tom’s acceptance of this role.”


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MLB SEIZES CONTROL OF LOS ANGELES DODGERS PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 16:29

DodgersTHIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

With the divorce of the McCourts, and attendance woes chewing into the bottom line, MLB has finally stepped in and is assuming control of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Commissioner Selig has released a statement saying:

“Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club.  I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball. My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt's ownership.  I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days.

“The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future.”

MORE DETAILS AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE

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Why the McCourt Divorce May Be the Least of the Dodgers Worries


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Mets Narrow Minority Ownership List to Eight PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 08 April 2011 15:25

MetsThe search for minority owners in the New York Mets has reportedly been narrowed down to eight. According to the New York Daily News, the eight groups have been vetted by Major League Baseball and will be looking to purchase between 25-40 percent of the club.

"Now they'll decide who gets to Round Two," said a source to the Daily News. "They are very happy with the numbers they're seeing. There's a range - the low end is marginally acceptable and the high end is very acceptable."

From the report:

The Mets' owners are expecting to raise between $150 million and $200 million for a stake in the team. The cash infusion from an investor is expected to be used to operate the team, as the Daily News has reported, not to pay off any Madoff liability that might arise out of the litigation or a settlement. The team would conceivably pay off a $25 million loan it recently got from MLB and some of its bank debt on the club itself. That would leave about $100 million for the team.

On top of the Madoff lawsuit, attendance issues have plagued the Mets since moving into Citi Field. Last year, the Mets ranked 12 in attendance drawing 2,559,738, an average of 32,401 or  just over 77 percent of capacity.


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Mets Look to Have $1 Billion in Recoveries from Madoff Bankruptcy Trustee Dismissed PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown and David Simmons   
Sunday, 20 March 2011 23:35

MetsOn Friday, Irving Pichard, the trustee for the liquidation of Bernie Madoff’s investment company, amended his complaint in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, against Sterling Equities seeking $1 billion in recoveries due to “additional alleged fraudulent transfers of principal (that) occurred during the six years prior to December 2008” with Madoff who was found to be at the center of the largest Ponzi scheme in US history.

Sterling, the investment fund that is run by Mets co-owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, fought back on Sunday, filing a 107-page response seeking to dismiss the amended complaint based on Pichard making “false allegations” that sought to leverage Sterling into settling.

(READ THE 107 PAGE RESPONSE)

The filing states, in part:

Sterling filing
Read the Sterling response

“Customers of a registered broker receive special protection under federal and state securities laws. To avoid a broker’s payments to such customers, the Trustee must prove that the customer has forfeited customer status because he essentially knew that, instead of depositing cash with his broker for the purpose of buying securities, he was investing in a fraud and therefore the antecedent debt discharged by the broker’s payments was invalid.

“The undisputed facts demonstrate that the Trustee can prove no such guilty knowledge, nor any bad faith.”

The response adds that, “The Sterling Defendants should never have been targeted by the Trustee, nor put in such a position. They are victims. They were defrauded by Madoff. They are now being victimized again and harmed—both personally and as a business matter—by successive complaints, even though there is no factual or legal basis for the Trustee’s claims.”

The filing cites Peter Stamos, the outside hedge fund manager for Sterling, advising the Sterling partners to invest with Madoff right up until the Ponzi scheme was revealed.

“I’m embarrassed to say that I said to Mr. Katz on a number of occasions that my assumption is that Mr. Madoff is the most honest and honorable man, among the most honest and honorable men that we will ever meet,” said Stamos under deposition. “Number one. And, number two, that he is perhaps one of the—my assumption is he’s perhaps one of the best hedge fund managers in modern times. . . . [The first assumption was b]ased on his reputation, based upon his long track record, based upon having seen him receive these awards and the positions that he held as chairman of the NASDAQ, having built this great company. He was, quite frankly, legendary, to all of us. And I stood in awe of that with Mr. Katz, and I assumed that.”

An interesting aspect of the response filed by Sterling centers on Pichard’s claims that “Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz” are “sophisticated investors.” In the deposition cited, Katz and Wilpon are portrayed as not being as such.

“Q. Do you understand—do you consider yourself a sophisticated investor? . . . I’m talking about in the stock market, not in real estate or anything else.

[S. Katz]. In the sophisticated, in today’s world of derivatives that are going on, the answer is no. . . . I don’t do well in the markets, the stock market. I’m not good at it, it’s not my business. I don’t have an active trading account anywhere.”

* * *

“Q. Did you understand how Madoff was making money off of his investment business?

[F. Wilpon]. Not in any kind of depth.

Q. Well, what do you mean by not in any kind of depth? Did you have any understanding?

A. I’m not an investment person, I’m not an investment, stock investment advisor, so I wouldn’t have that kind of expertise.”

The Mets continue to try and sell a minority stake in the club that will allow them to deal not only with the fallout from the Madoff scandal, but declining attendance. According to the NY Post, the league has approved three potential bidders that were vetted by the investment bank Allen & Co.

The groups include one led by the team of Goldman Sachs' David Heller and Apollo's Marc Spilker, and another including Steve Starker, co-founder of the global-trading firm BTIG and Ken Dichter, the co-founder of Marquis Jet as potential New York Mets owners, sources said.

At least one or two additional bidders have also been passed along to the MLB Commissioner, and could be cleared to bid for the team, sources said.

The club is no longer able to add more debt due to new rules from MLB.  Recently, due to the Texas Rangers bankruptcy, the league enacted protections to keep any club's distressed debt from being gobbled up by “vulture hedge funds” such as Monarch Alternative Capital.

To add to the Mets woes, The WSJ reported recently that, “Executives at Time Warner Cable Inc. and Comcast Corp. would be unlikely to allow the owners of the New York Mets to sell part of their stake in the jointly owned regional cable channel Sportsnet New York, according to people familiar with the executives' thinking.”

All this comes as the Mets will begin having to pay player payroll, and their $22 million construction bond for Citi Field comes due at the end of June.


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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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Group Led by Martin Luther King III Has Interest in Purchasing Portion of Mets PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 31 January 2011 08:50

MetsWith Jeff and Fred Wilpon putting a portion of the New York Mets up for sale late last week, potential suitors are already lining up. The New York Post reports that Martin Luther King III is part of a group interested in becoming partial owners of the club.

According to The Post, the group includes Mets legend Ed Kranepool; entrepreneur Donn Clendenon Jr., son of the 1969 Mets World Series MVP; TV executive Larry Meli; and a number of unnamed deep-pocketed investors.

But, as we covered when this story broke (see Weight of Madoff Scandal Puts Portion of New York Mets Up for Sale), a key factor in the sale of the club is what percentage the Wilpons are willing to sell. That could be a potential stumbling block in negotiations with the MLK III group.

The group is seeking “at least a 50 percent” ownership share – a large controlling interest. The Wilpons are reportedly seeking to sell just half that – 25 percent.

"I think in order for it to make sense it would have to be at least a 50-50 arrangement," said Meli, a trusted friend of King, who is cited in The Post article.

Meli also noted that MLB currently has no African-American owners, which true in terms of controlling interest, but not at the minority ownership level.

Fred and Jeff Wilpon said Friday in a statement, “Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and continue to control and manage the team's operations. The Mets have been a major part of our families for more than 30 years and that is not going to change.”


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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Drayton McLane Enlists New York Banking Firm to Sell Houston Astros PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 19 November 2010 01:43

AstrosUPDATE: McLane has called a 2:30pm CT press conference at Minute Maid Park to discuss the sale.


Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane has passively trying to sell club for more than two years, but has now reportedly retained the services of New York investment firm Allen & Company to more aggressively sell the club.

 

MLB sources have reportedly told FOX 26 in Houston that Allen & Co. will attempt to sell the Astros franchise for $800 million. The deal would include a stake in the newly created regional sports network CSN Houston that sees Comcast and the NBA Houston Rockets as partners. It is unclear what the total split between the Rockets and Astros comes to, but reports have had the two Houston sports properties owning 77.5 percent to Comcast’s 22.5 percent of the RSN.

Earlier this year, McLane entered into an exclusive negotiating window with Great Court Capital of New York to purchase the club. The group included former United States Olympic Committee chief Harvey Schiller and was also the president of the International Baseball Federation. (Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Schiller). That deal was reportedly for $650 million, but fell through. In 2008, Houston businessman Jim Crane backed out of deal at the 11th hour to purchase the club.

McLane has owned the Astros since 1993 when he purchased them for $117 million from John McMullen. That deal included the lease on the Astrodome.

Forbes valued the Astros at $453 million for last year, ranking 11th out of the 30 clubs. The following shows the Forbes valuations from 2001 to 2009 (see historical Forbes rankings):

Astros Valuations

NOTE: NOT ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION


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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Greenberg-Ryan Run Full-Page "Message for Fans Texas Rangers" In Several Papers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 22 August 2010 20:10

Texas RangersThe new ownership of the Texas Rangers continues to reach out to fans in the Dallas/Ft. Worth market and beyond after officially taking over the club just over a week ago. First it was sweeping price cuts at the Ballpark, now it’s a letter to fans.

Today, a "Message for Texas Rangers Fans Everywhere" by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan runs as a full-page ad, not only in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Sunday editions, but in eight other markets. According to John Blake, Exec. VP of Communications for the Rangers, the ad ran in the Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, as well as in outlying markets in and out of the State of Texas (Austin, Oklahoma City, Abilene, Waco, Tyler, Longview, Wichita Falls, and Shreveport).

According to Blake, the Greenberg wanted to reach fans as far away as 3-and-half hours from Arlington.

(READ THE BIZ OF BASEBALL INTERVIEW WITH CHUCK GREENBERG)

The ad, signed by Greenberg and Ryan starts by saying, “Welcome to a new beginning. We can’t tell you how excited we are to complete the purchase of the Texas Rangers.”

Select the image below to read the ad

Texas Rangers ad
Full-page ad that ran in several papers on Sunday


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MLB UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES OWNERSHIP TRANSFER OF TEXAS RANGERS TO GREENBERG-RYAN GROUP PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 12 August 2010 11:21

Texas Rangers

This is breaking news...

The long and winding road has finally ended....

Yesterday, MLB’s ownership and executive committees unanimously approved the purchase of the Texas Rangers by a group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, and today, the 30 owners have sealed the deal by voting unanimously to approve the ownership transfer today at the quarterly meetings in Minneapolis.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Dallas Morning News, the meeting occurred at 8:45am. Chuck Greenberg waited outside the room as the vote took place and was greeted by Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels after the vote was final. Greenberg was then allowed to enter the meeting with the other 29 owners. Greenberg traveled to Minneapolis with key Rangers Baseball Express investors Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. Nolan Ryan is staying back in Texas where the team has been playing the Yankees.

In a statement, Commissioner Selig said:

“I am very pleased that Chuck, Nolan and their impressive ownership group have been approved as the new leadership of the Texas Rangers franchise,” Commissioner Selig said. “Chuck and Nolan have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the Rangers. Their passion for Major League Baseball as a whole and particularly the future of baseball in Texas is exemplary.

“In addition, I want to thank the Rangers’ fans for their patience throughout this difficult process. I am confident that Chuck, Nolan and the entire ownership group will serve as dedicated stewards of this club by building a long-term, stable franchise which values its standing in the Dallas-Fort Worth communities. I am glad that the Rangers’ great season on the field will get the attention it deserves during the pennant race.”

Shortly after the vote, the Greenberg-Ryan group released the funds needed to complete the sale.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to complete our purchase of the Texas Rangers,” commented Greenberg. “It’s been a long journey, but well worth the wait. We believe that this franchise belongs to all of its fans, and we pledge to be passionate in all we do to bring you the very best on and off the field.”

“We can now turn our full attention to continuing what has been a great season on the field,” said Ryan. “We thank the fans and the community for their tremendous loyalty and support and we look forward to the excitement as we head down the stretch and into October.”

The vote by MLB’s 30 owners to approve the ownership transfer caps one of the most contentious club sales in sports history. The club was placed in voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy after Tom Hicks fell $525 million in debt. Creditors for Hicks pushed for an open auction process, which pitted Mark Cuban and Jim Crane against the Greenberg-Ryan group. The latter won at auction with a sale price of $593 million, far more than the creditors had expected.

TEXAS RANGERS OWNERSHIP

Principal Owners (Years)

  • Robert E. Short (December 3, 1968-May 29, 1974)
  • Bradford G. Corbett (May 29, 1974-April 29, 1980)
  • H.E. (Eddie Chiles) ( April 29, 1980-April 21, 1989)
  • George W. Bush/Edward W. Rose Partnership* (April 21, 1989-June 16, 1998)
  • Thomas O. Hicks (June 16, 1998-August 12, 2010)
  • Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan Partnership (August 12, 2010- )

*J. Thomas Schieffer succeeded Bush as a General Partner in November 1994

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On Eve of MLB Vote, Dispute Arises Over Removal of Aircraft Lease Agreement in Texas Rangers Chapter 11 Plan PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 22:38

Texas Rangers

JPMorgan Chase, one of the first-lien lenders in the Texas Rangers bankruptcy case has challenged a section of the Asset Purchase Agreement that was altered after the group led Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan won at auction last week for the purchase of the club. The challenge will not prevent ownership transfer which is expected to made official by vote of MLB’s 30 owners on Thurs.

At issue are $1.9 million in aircraft lease payments that were removed from the APA after the auction. The motion by JPMorgan claims the Greenberg-Ryan group (Rangers Baseball Express), Texas Rangers Baseball Partners, and William Snyder, the CRO in the case, removed the lease terms with Hicks Sports Group in “a process that lacks transparency and ignores the rights and interests of (JPMorgan Chase).” The banking institution had asked for an emergency hearing on the matter on Weds. with Judge Michael Lynn.

In an objection filing, representatives for RBE said, “Put simply, a dispute about relatively small lease payments (totaling approximately 0.3% of the purchase price) that will not be made for three weeks or more does not create an emergency necessitating that the Court set a hearing on 12 hours notice.”

The court agreed adjourning “to a later date and will be re-noticed accordingly.”

More news as it becomes available

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Texas Rangers Sale Approval Top Item of MLB Owners Meetings PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 08:57

Texas Rangers

After months of legal wrangling, MLB is poised to approve the sale of the Texas Rangers. Today, the beginning of two days of quarterly meetings for MLB owners begins with the sale of the Rangers its chief topic. Last week, the preferred group of the league, led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan won at auction over a group of Mark Cuban and Jim Crane for the right to purchase the club out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The total price was $593 million with a total cash amount of $385 million.

The vote is set to take place when the full slate of owners arrives in Minneapolis on Thursday. Ownership transfer requires three-quarters of the league’s 30 owners to vote for approval. The vote is expected to easily pass, most likely unanimously.

More news as it becomes available

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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, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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