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BOSS TO SELL YANKS? NEWSDAY SAYS CABLEVISION DEAL POSSIBLE
Published March 19, 1998
In a deal "that would stun the baseball world and give Cablevision an unmatched sporting empire" in N.Y., the company "has entered into discussions with George Steinbrenner about the possibility of buying the Yankees," according to Heyman & Zipay of NEWSDAY. Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan confirmed yesterday that he has met with Steinbrenner on several occasions over the past few months and discussed "all kinds of possibilities" and scenarios regarding a potential sale. Another source said that the sides have been talking about a sale for six months. While neither Dolan nor Steinbrenner would discuss a price range, two sources familiar with the discussions said that the potential deal would bring Steinbrenner and his partners "well in excess" of $500M, "perhaps close to double the Fox purchase price" for the Dodgers. Dolan said that Cablevision, owner of the Knicks and NHL Rangers, is "absolutely" interested in buying the Yankees, but "there has been no real progress with any of the different ideas that have surfaced" (Heyman & Zipay, NEWSDAY, 3/19). GEORGE ON THE RECORD: Steinbrenner yesterday did not "completely rule out" the possibility of selling the Yankees: "We've talked about a continuing relationship with them. Their TV contract with us [on MSG] is up in two years, and there are all sorts of rumors flying around because of that. There is nothing definitive. Naturally, if there is an interest in maintaining our relationship it stands to reason they'll have interest in extending the contract or owning the team." If the sale were to happen, sources say that the sides are discussing the possibility of Steinbrenner being paid "an annual management fee of at least" $5M to help run the club for five years after the sale. However, sources said that "there are still very real obstacles" to a sale, such as Steinbrenner's tax bill if he were to sell at $500M-plus profit. The situation "is further complicated" by the partners' decision to borrow against future earnings stemming from Steinbrenner's $486M MSG TV deal. Meanwhile, Steinbrenner also said that he has heard "from his league sources" about interest in the team from Westinghouse, CBS's parent company (NEWSDAY, 3/19).