Two investment groups have "expressed serious interest in buying" the A's and "keeping the team in its current home," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. A source said that one outfit is "from the L.A. area and is headed by a financial services industry executive." The second group, which "also didn't want to be identified publicly, is led by a longtime executive from a high-profile Silicon Valley company." The exec "already owns a minor league baseball franchise." The first group has reportedly "already made its interest in the A's known" to MLB. A's Owner Lew Wolff "insists the team isn't for sale" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/12). MLB.com's Terence Moore wrote Oakland without the A's is "no big deal for a lot of reasons." One is that the MLB Giants "are the 'Team of the Heart' for most of Northern California." The A's "always have been the other team." Moore wrote San Jose would be a good fit for the A's. While Oakland is the eight-largest city in California, San Jose is the 10th-largest city in the U.S. Given that the Giants "still rule, it's not as if that many around Oakland would miss the A's, anyway." The A's "haven't reached the two-million mark in attendance since they ended a five-year streak" in '05 (MLB.com, 3/9).
Padres Chair John Moores said that it "isn't the way he wants it to be but he's fine with being the majority owner of the Padres for another season," according to Nick Canepa of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad Friday withdrew his application to purchase the team "to expedite the 20-year TV deal" with FS San Diego as the season approaches. Moores said, "This was a done deal a long time ago. We were getting ready to celebrate our success. But it’s not the worst situation in the world to sit in the owner’s seat from time to time for another season -- though I am conflicted about it, no question.” Moorad and his partners own 49% of the Padres and although they "still have two years under their agreement to purchase the remainder of the franchise, it was thought the deal would be done in January." For whatever reason -- Moorad, due to his "days as an agent, is said to be unpopular with some baseball owners -- the transaction was tabled." Now it "really appears to be on the back burner." Moores said, "There are some old wounds, some relating to philosophy on how baseball teams should be run. I quit guessing sometime back. We decided to focus on the fact that we have to get the TV deal done before everything else and we’re hoping to get it done next week" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/10).
PUT IT IN THE BOOKS? In San Diego, Tim Sullivan wrote the "percentage play in Moorad’s pursuit of the Home Team may be to sit tight and show sincerity: to close the game-changing television deal with Fox Sports and plow the proceeds into player payroll and improvements to Petco Park; to prove he’s committed for the long haul and not the quick buck; to use his time productively while waiting for the wind to shift." Moorad's decision to "pull back his application to acquire controlling interest in the Padres is most easily read as a strategic withdrawal in the face of entrenched opposition and certain defeat." MLB sources continue to "question Moorad’s ability to secure the required approval of 22 owners over the objections of the influential" White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and D'Backs Managing Partner Ken Kendrick, who was Moorad’s partner in Arizona. Though Friday’s maneuver "certainly sends a distress signal, it does not necessarily mean Moorad has surrendered" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/10). In California, Jay Paris wrote the main storyline that has derailed the Moores-Moorad transaction is that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and other owners "have been privy to something we haven't been: the Padres' financial books, and just how much dough the new guys have." The focus on the "prospective ownership group is the short-pockets of Moorad and his gaggle of investors." What is "disappointing is the Padres fans having ownership in this team -- not to mention the citizens' $300 million funding of Petco Park -- are starting a season under a cloud of doubt" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 3/11).
The Astros announced Friday that the throwback jerseys they will use for the April 10 and April 20 games at Minute Maid Park will "include the pistol that was part of the Colt .45s look" from '62-64. In Houston, Steve Campbell noted MLB "originally prohibited the Astros from using the pistols on the throwback jerseys, only to reverse course and put the decision in the hands of the team." As part of the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Astros will "wear a uniform from their past on every Friday home game" (CHRON.com, 3/9).
BROTHERLY LOVE: In N.Y., Belson & Lattman noted since taking over the 76ers, Owner Josh Harris and his team have "cut ticket prices, jazzed up the in-game presentation, began a new marketing campaign and spoke openly and often to fans." Combined with the 76ers’ "improved play, the steps have helped turn the team into one of this season’s feel-good stories and the sports darlings of a city best known for its bare-knuckle fans." Harris said, "I got into it for the business challenge. The Sixers were an undermanaged and undervalued asset that wasn’t connecting with its fans and was heading into a lockout. We approached the investment in the same way that we would at a private equity firm." 76ers CEO Adam Aron said sales for the rest of the season "are through the roof." The team expects to "sell more tickets during the 33-game home part of the season than they did last year, when they played all 41 home games." TV ratings through the All-Star break were 93% "higher than last season" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/11).
TIS THE SEASON: In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes the Marlins "plan to continue selling season-ticket packages through May." Team President David Samson said that even if demand "continues to grow, they will cap it at about" 18,000. Samson said, "Sellouts breed sellouts. Miami is very much a buzz town. Which is part of the all-in strategy of raising the payroll, signing some free agents and rebranding, relaunching, because it creates that buzz. Now with that buzz you combine it with a team that performs, and then you start building and building. Then hopefully it keeps going" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/12).
DIGGING FOR DOLLARS: In New Jersey, John Brennan noted the NFL Jets have filed a $1M lawsuit against Super Metals Mining Inc., "one of their MetLife Stadium luxury suite holders -- a Canadian copper mining company -- for alleged failure to pay the bill for their suite last season." The suit seeks a judgment of $1.1M "plus attorney fees and other litigation expenses" (Bergen RECORD, 3/11).