SBD/January 13, 2012/Franchises

Selig Says Issues Holding Up Padres Sale Should Be Resolved "Expeditiously"

Moorad signed deal in '09 to buy Padres over five-year period
MLB Thursday delayed the planned owner vote to approve the sale of the Padres to an investor group led by current team Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad. That marked the second such tabling of a team sale by the league in the last six months and capped a wild series of unexpected events at owners' meetings in Arizona. Recalling the delayed sale of the Astros to Jim Crane that finally closed in November, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said the Padres' tabling is owed to unspecified "technical issues," and vowed the matter would be resolved "expeditiously." Issues in the estimated $530M deal began to surface Wednesday night, and Moorad attempted several times to resolve the league's outstanding questions at numerous points and keep the approval vote happening, including during the meeting's general session yesterday morning. But answers could not be immediately generated, and the vote was pulled from the agenda. "There's no hidden agenda here or anything else," Selig said. "There were a lot of economic concerns. The most important thing that we do is bringing in new owners. And so we have become very, very fastidious about the economics. Whether people can make it. And I'm not suggesting there's anything negative. There were just questions we didn't have time here to answer." Moorad first signed a deal in '09 to buy the team from John Moores over five years, but has accelerated that schedule by more than two years. Moorad acknowledged "the rush to finish the deal" contributed to the unresolved issues. The next MLB owners' meeting is not until May, but both Selig and Moorad suggested the issue could be resolved well before then, with an approval vote happening by conference call. Moores, meanwhile, was said to be livid with Selig over the delay (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
BEHIND THE SCENES: Selig indicated that "significant snags began surfacing as early as Friday in the form of questions raised" by MLB Exec VP/Finance Jonathan Mariner. In San Diego, Tim Sullivan reports those questions "were echoed by baseball’s ownership committee and its executive council during their meetings Wednesday, and the Padres’ 11th-hour salvage operations proved insufficient." This led to a "lengthy and animated discussion Thursday morning." For "roughly 20 minutes, Moores and Moorad conferred with a changing cast of executives that included" MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations & HR Rob Manfred, White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and, "intermittently, Selig." The scene "unfolded in full view of reporters breakfasting in an adjacent building, and closer observers later confirmed Moores’ apparent anger was indeed palpable." Moorad's body language "was comparatively stoic, and his subsequent reflections characteristically subdued." Meanwhile, sources said that Moores "was the only owner who failed to approve Selig’s new two-year contract extension, though it was not immediately clear whether he had abstained or was simply absent" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/13).
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