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04/10/12 10:25 PM ET
Moores says Padres sale will proceed
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego majority owner John Moores said Tuesday that the ownership group is moving ahead with plans to sell the franchise. The Padres announced that Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company and John Moag of Moag & Company have been retained to advise Moores on the sale of the club and finding prospective buyers. Greenberg and Moag have informed the club that the process could take a number of months, possibly up to a year. But Greenberg sounded optimistic Tuesday that a buyer will be found and possibly quickly. "It's a hot time for baseball, and I would expect substantial interest in the Padres," Greenberg said during a conference call. Moores' intention to sell the Padres comes at an opportune time. He told MLB.com last week that Major League Baseball approved a 20-year, $1.2 billion deal with FOX to establish a regional sports network in San Diego County with a $200 million up-front bonus. Moores' 20 percent stake in the television deal, which has yet to be official announced, will be included in the purchase of the team. Moores refused to estimate the current value of the franchise in the aftermath of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt's sale of his club and its stadium to a group headed by Mark Walter, chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, longtime sports executive Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson for $2.15 billion. "I noticed that for sure," Moores said. "Clearly the Dodgers sale and the current media market will have a lifting effect on the value of the club." Moores said he wouldn't be surprised if someone in the limited partnership group, which his headed by local businessman Ron Fowler, made a run at purchasing the team. Moores met with Fowler on Opening Day, April 5, at Petco Park. The limited partners own 49 percent of the team. "Some of the [members of the limited partnership group] may or may not choose to be a part of the new group or choose to buy it themselves," Moores said. "I wouldn't be surprised if there is interest." In 2009, Moores sold a $100 million share of the team to Jeff Moorad, who was the lead partner of a group of investors who agreed to purchase the team for $530 million with a window of five years to complete the sale in its entirety. Moorad and his partners sequentially made two payments and were in possession of 49 percent of the franchise. With the urging of Moores, Moorad stepped up that process by more than two years in January. Moorad confirmed that he was poised to make an all-cash transaction and that cash and the signed documents were in escrow. But the sale hit a snag. On Jan. 12, approval of Moorad's purchase was tabled as Major League owners asked for clarification on several outstanding financial issues, Commissioner Bud Selig said at the time. On March 9, Moorad withdrew his application to Major League Baseball for a control transfer. On March 22, Moorad stepped down as the club's chief executive officer, though he remained vice chairman of the team. Moorad no longer has an office at Petco Park as it appears his tenure with the team is over. How has Moores handled the roller-coaster ride of the last three-plus months? "I don't know if I've handled it particularly well," Moores said of the recent turn of events. "... But no one should feel sorry for someone who wakes up owning a Major League club. It's been an absolute joy." In the meantime, it's business as usual at Petco Park, said Padres president Tom Garfinkel. "The marching orders are to keep marching," Garfinkel said. "We've got a great leadership team. There's a lot of great things happening with the Padres. We've got a process in place for decision making. John has ensured that we keep it moving forward." The same goes for the players and manager Bud Black, who have their sights set on the D-backs, who came to Petco Park on Tuesday for the first of three games. "I can imagine that when this [sale] does happen, the City of San Diego will be excited about this group," Black said.