Somewhere, there are sighs, screams, and sounds of heads smacking fine mahogany tables as Bill Madden and Michael O’Keeffe of the NY Daily News wafted out a story that the New York Yankees might be up for sale. Madden, who has many times been right on a story, but just as often not (remember, he said that contraction of the A’s and Rays was on the cusp), ran the story today using unnamed sources, and more than a bit of speculation.
"There has been chatter all around the banking and financial industries in the city for a couple of weeks now," one high-level baseball source told The News.
Yankee president Randy Levine adamantly denied the rumors: "I can say to you there is absolutely, positively nothing to this. The Steinbrenners are not selling the team." And managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, George's younger son, weighed in with his own denial Thursday morning, saying in a statement: "I just read the Daily News story. It is complete fiction. Me and my family have no intention to sell the Yankees and expect it to be in the family for years to come."
The issue (and this is surely gets the “speculation” part) is that the reported price being sought is “up to a stunning $3 billion.”
There’s a slight problem with this.
If the Steinbrenners did indeed want out, then you’d likely want “all the way” out. After all, any potential owner would want that large piece of YES Network that the Yankees control. While we’re at it, it’s also possible that Legends Hospitality that is co-owned with the NFL Dallas Cowboys could be in the mix. $3 billion…. seems to be anything but “stunning” based upon associated assets that could be in the mix in a potential sale.
If that sounds crazy, the market has changed with the sale of the Dodgers. But remember, that was a sale that had a lucrative media rights deal waiting in the wings, and massive amounts of revenues that could come from commercial development around Dodger Stadium. Yes, it’s the Yankees. Yes, they are baseball’s crown jewel. But, one should be leery of saying, “If the Dodgers go for $2.15 billion, then the Yankees should be worth a whole lot more.”
That is to say, maybe the Yankees are really worth a lot more. But, each sale has different moving pieces and by extension, it’s never an apples to apples comparison.
On any potential sale of the Yankees…. beyond the comments out of the front office of the club, (and now it’s my turn to speculate), what could be happening here is a little bit of a trial balloon, or better yet, the Yankees just trying to get a feel for what they’re worth on the market these days. After all, if you live in a neighborhood where a house sells for twice what market value was, and your place is better condition, you’d probably make some calls to feel out what your house might now be worth.
On whether the Yankees are blowing smoke with their comments, MLB had to go so far as to issue a statement on the matter.
“Major League Baseball has received no indications from any representatives of the New York Yankees or anyone else that the Club is for sale,” said the league.
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. 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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