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THE DAY AFTER: BOTH SIDES DOWNPLAY YANKS/CABLEVISION TALKS
Published March 20, 1998
Both the Yankees and Cablevision issued statements after yesterday's NEWSDAY report that Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner had held discussions with Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan about the possibility of buying the team. The Yankees said that Steinbrenner and Dolan had met and "the possibility of Cablevision buying into the Yankees was discussed. But no deal was made. The Steinbrenners will be with the Yankees for many years to come. 'The Boss' is here to stay" (Yankees). In a separate statement, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan said, "We maintain an active interest in the future of our relationship with the Yankees and are open to any ideas that Mr. Steinbrenner may have" (Cablevision). STILL TALKING? A "well-placed" source told NEWSDAY's Jon Heyman that a Cablevision "overture to buy the Mets was rebuffed more than a year ago" before it began talks with Steinbrenner. But sale talks with the Yankees "remain very much alive." Club sources "maintained yesterday that there is serious interest on Steinbrenner's part" in a deal estimated between $650-700M. One source disputed the phrase "buying into" in the Yankees statement "and affirmed the original report from Newsday that Cablevision would become the principle owner under the terms being discussed." Steinbrenner, on Newsday's report: "That's somebody popping off about something they know nothing about. That's so ridiculous." Moments later though, he added, "I don't rule anything out." Cablevision declined comment when asked about its past interest in the Mets (NEWSDAY, 3/20). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS reports that while Steinbrenner and Dolan have met about renewing the Yankees TV deal, a source close to Cablevision said, "Everything's on the table" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/20). In N.Y., sources told Cauley & Fatsis that a "major hurdle" in the sale talks is Steinbrenner's "demand that he retain management control of the franchise for the next 15 years" (Cauley & Fatsis, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/20). CABLEVISION TIE-IN: CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that speculation about a Yankees deal "and a recommendation from Goldman Sachs sent Cablevision stock sharply higher" on Thursday, gaining $8 to close at $120.25 ("Moneyline," CNN, 3/19). In N.Y., Geraldine Fabrikant writes that the acquisition of "even a partial stake in the Yankees makes sense for Cablevision" and would give it "a near lock on the metropolitan area's professional sports market" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20). But the DAILY NEWS' Bob Raissman writes that Cablevision's buying the Yankees "would be bad news for the fans" as it already owns the Knicks and Rangers and holds TV rights to the Yankees, Devils, Nets and Islanders. Dolan has previously talked about creating various team TV cable packages at a "premium price" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/20). A NEWSDAY editorial, on a possible Cablevision purchase of the Yankees: "That kind of domination of sports programming ... should raise questions" (NEWSDAY, 3/20).