SBD/29/Sports Media

MLB TO TAKE MAJORLEAGUEBASEBALL.COM PUBLIC? LEAGUE EYES IPO

          D'Backs Managing General Partner and Suns CEO Jerry
     Colangelo said yesterday that MLB "is likely to go public"
     in the next two to three years, followed by the NBA,
     according to Jennifer Allen of BRIDGE NEWS.  Colangelo,
     speaking at a sports finance forum, said that MLB is
     "centralizing operations, including acting to consolidate
     Internet revenue."  Colangelo: "This is all about bringing
     back in-house what we own.  We have the content and we have
     the brand.  It's time to take it back."  Colangelo said that
     MLB is "forming a new company, now called 'Newco,' in line
     with its goal" of an IPO (BRIDGE NEWS, 3/28).  The INDUSTRY
     STANDARD's Bernhard Warner wrote that the new division will
     "oversee the league's Net rights," with MLB Exec VP Robert
     DuPuy as acting Chair & CEO.  MLB has already "hired an
     investment bank" to examine spinning off the Web unit.
     Warner wrote that team owners have an "equal ownership
     stake" in the venture but "not an equal take of the revenue;
     that money goes to the league office."  MLB Commissioner Bud
     Selig can then "parcel" it out "at his discretion, favoring,
     for instance, cash-poor clubs."  MLB's Web site "won't be a
     powerhouse portal right off," but the "list of potential
     moneymaking ventures is long," including possibilities such
     as memorabilia auctions and video highlight subscriptions. 
     But officials say that "many" new features "won't happen
     until next season."  In the meantime, MLB will work on
     "integrating team Web sites" into the league site, and
     "recruiting corporate sponsors."  DuPuy says that MLB is
     "considering an alliance with a media company or technology
     outfit to build" the site into a "superfan site," which
     could lead to an IPO (INDUSTRY STANDARD, 3/27).

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