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 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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