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Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner stepped to the plate yesterday as he submitted an 11th hour offer to buy the Bucs. Steinbrenner, who offered a reported $170M-$180M for the team, said "he is the organizer of the group, but not the majority partner." NFL rules prohibits cross-ownership with other major pro sports teams, but Steinbrenner said, "We have handled that within our group so that is not going to be an issue." He refused to disclose any of his partners, although they are to believed to include former Chrysler Chair Lee Iacocca, Twins Owner Carl Pohlad, billionaire investor Lester Crown, and Steinbrenner's two sons. The Yankees owner would not disclose numbers, only saying: "I don't go into it unless I think it's right. It's the right price." Bucs trust spokesperson Steve Story called the bid "a competitive offer, but it's a different kind of offer." He said it would be considered along with the three other bids already on the table (Marc Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/13). On the "CBS Evening News" last night, Steinbrenner reiterated his hope to keep the team in Tampa: "To lose the pro football team would be devastating. Because it would be a stigma that would be attached to this community that we wouldn't lose quickly" (CBS, 1/12). The bid by the Steinbrenner group came as the trustees "apparently were nearly ready to accept" an estimated $192M offer from Palm Beach financier Malcolm Glazer. Steinbrenner, on whether his offer was competitive with Orioles Owner Peter Angelos: "I don't like to lose, whether it's to the Orioles or Peter, who is a worthy competitor." Local officials praised the bid, but Steinbrenner "shrugged off" suggestions he is Tampa's savior: "I'm not a white knight. I'm a gray-haired old man" (Henderson & Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/13).
Cablevision and ITT have been given approval to buy Madison Square Garden from Viacom. The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the proposed $1.075B acquisition "without requiring any modifications to the sale." MSG is the parent company for the Knicks and Rangers, and the deal still needs the backing of the NHL and the NBA to be finalized. Teri Washington, a spokesperson for the NBA, said it was not clear whether a vote on the transfer of the Knicks will be held at the next Board of Governors meeting on February 13. A team sale requires 3/4 approval from the NBA's 27 team representatives. A spokesperson for the NHL said a vote by that league could be "months away" (Elizabeth Sanger, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/13).
New Padres Owner John Moores and CEO Larry Lucchino held a news conference to speak on the state of the franchise. Their $80M purchase of the team was approved on December 22, and they discussed what the future holds for "their small-market team." Moores said he has no intention of moving the team; he will hold a consulting position with the team and attend home games as "often as possible." Lucchino, who will run the day-to-day operations, said the club will "renew efforts to market the Padres in Mexico, and talked about making Jack Murphy Stadium more "user-friendly for Spanish speaking patrons." Moores on buying the team during the strike: "I was a little nervous, frankly. ... But if I thought there was going to be a lot of fallout, I wouldn't be here" (Buster Olney, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/13). The two received high marks from columnist Tom Cushman: "If Moores and Lucchino deliver as well as the personalities project, a pennant should soon be flapping atop a Mission Valley flagpole" (Tom Cushman, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/12).
"Barring the unexpected, FANS Inc. plans a 2pm CST news conference Tuesday in St. Louis to announce" that the Rams intend to move. However, there is "one hitch." According to the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, FANS Inc., the civic group negotiating to bring the Rams to St. Louis, must sell 40,000 permanent seat licenses (PSL's) by the NFL owners meetings in March or the team has the option to stay in Anaheim. That would give the group just about eight weeks to finalize the deal. FANS has also pledged to sell 50,000 PSL's by the Rams season opener in September. Upon completion of legal documents, and the final approval of Rams Owner Georgia Frontiere, the plans for the news conference call for MO- based businessman Stan Kroenke to be introduced as the new minority owner of the team. Kroenke will reportedly pay up to $80M for 40% of the franchise. The sale of the PSL's is vital, as the revenue will be used to pay off the cost associated with the team's move, including a relocation fee, and stadium improvement debts at Anaheim Stadium, the team's current home (Jim Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/13).