Prospective Astros owner Jim Crane is seeking a $50 million discount on the $680 million sale of the Houston Astros as compensation for moving the team to the American League, according to a report in today’s NY Post.
The want for a discount surrounds the newly created regional sports network in partnership with the Houston Rockets and Comcast that will air Rockets games in 2012 (provided new labor agreement is reached) and Astros games in 2013. Crane has said that due to the later start times in the AL West, viewership will be impacted. The league has pointed to the rivalry involving the Texas Rangers, and interest in Yankees and Red Sox games that would come from AL East games with the Astros.
The report adds that Commissioner Selig feels they are “in the ballpark” on the compensation. There are still concerns by the owners regarding past workplace issues at Crane’s companies including discrimination and war-profiteering, both of which are said to be matters of sensitivity for Selig, as well as several of the owners. A vote to approve Crane requires 75% of the owners to agree. The votes were not there in August when the last owners meetings took place, but there is momentum that vote will take place as part of the Nov. 15-16 meetings.
Even if there were a $20-$30 million reduction in the sale price, it would still rank as the second-highest all-time sale price for an MLB franchise behind only the Cubs at $845 million. That deal included Wrigley Field and a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The sale of the Texas Rangers, through a bankruptcy auction process, garnered $593 million.
Crane has now met with Selig to discuss the issues surrounding discrimination and war-profiteering, and late last week flew to meet with MLB execs around the move to the AL. While one source cited in the NY Post article believes there is a 60-70% chance of Crane’s approval, depending on the outcome of the current negotiations it seems near certain that Crane will be approved in mid-November.
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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