SBD/May 3, 2011/Franchises

McLane Exclusively Negotiating Sale Of Astros With Jim Crane

McLane has narrowed a list of 20-25 Astros bidders to one
Astros Owner Drayton McLane yesterday said that Houston businessman Jim Crane has become his "sole focus for the sale of the ballclub after other potential bidders languished at various stages of the process," according to Zachary Levine of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. McLane in late March had said that he was "in discussions with 'three or four' individuals or leaders of groups, and in January, there had been '20 or 25' individuals put through the vetting process, but they have all funneled to one." McLane: "Jim Crane is the only person we’re negotiating with now." McLane confirmed that he "has had discussions with Harris County-Houston Sports Authority chairman Kenny Friedman regarding the potential sale of the Astros." But McLane said, "They’ve never made a solid proposal." Friedman is "in a sense McLane’s landlord as the Astros are in year 12 of a 30-year lease with the Sports Authority" for Minute Maid Park. But he said that he "doesn’t see a conflict of interest with his public role at this point in what has been limited activity with McLane" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/3). Friedman, the father of Rays Exec VP/Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, said of the Astros, "I understand they recently entered into an exclusive negotiating period with Mr. Crane and his group, which is not surprising. They're well ahead in their efforts. I'm going to continue to keep pushing until someone tells me not to." When asked about his confidence to put a deal together if Crane does not buy the team, Friedman said, "My confidence is 100 percent. I think it would take us a few weeks to put together a solid deal" (MLB.com, 5/3).   
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