Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Padres ownership Q&A (III)

The Padres are up for auction but you won't find them on eBay. If you're an interested buyer, don't bother scrounging under the couch cushions for coins. Team owner John Moores fessed up today that he's ready to sell the team and has retained two brokers tasked with extracting top dollar. The Texas tycoon talked like an oil man whose remote property, not to be judged by tumbleweeds and dry gulches, sits on a big geyser.

What follows is another round of questions and answers concerning Padres ownership.

Q  Why is $600 million a significant figure?

A  Because $600 million, this blog has learned, is the price Moores initially sought for the club, from Jeff Moorad and his partners when Moores put the team up for sale in 2008.

Q  Did Moorad agree to pay $600 million for the club?

A  No, as part of the accord reached with Moores in early 2009, Moorad negotiated two prices that were in the neighborhood of $500 million.

Q  Why two prices?

A  If Moorad's group paid off Moores this year, the price would've been lower. Interest would've accrued if Moorad had waited until 2014, resulting in the higher negotiated price.

Q  Why is $600 million significant now?

A  Because Moores appears to be in better position to not only reach that number which he originally sought, but exceed it, potentially by a big sum. The soaring value of TV broadcasting agreements for baseball content and the $2.15 billion sale of the Dodgers, which hasn't been made official, could inflate the Padres' market value, according to sports business experts, Moores and the brokers.

Q  Wasn't $500 million thought to be a high price for the Padres in 2009?

A  Yes, said numerous baseball execs who expressed amazement at the time, but it appears both Moorad and Moores anticipated that the Padres' TV rights fees would jump starting in 2012, the first year after their deal with Cox Communications expired.

"The market and the times three years ago were very, very different than they are today," Moores said today.

Q  What are the chances Mark Cuban will buy the Padres?

A  Close to zero. Cuban deemed the Dodgers too pricey at $1 billion. Why would he chase the Padres for more than half that amount? Another obstacle would be major league commissioner Bud Selig, who's never been accused of wanting Cuban to buy a baseball club.

Q  Could Moores's original Padres CEO, Larry Lucchino, return to the Padres as part of a new ownership team?

A  Lucchino told me last year that he enjoys being CEO of the Red Sox and that both he and his wife love living in greater Boston. Lucchino grew  up on the East Coast and appears to have reclaimed power within the Red Sox since Theo Epstein left to join the Cubs last fall.

Lucchino is known to have a business relationship with one of the men brokering the sale of the Padres, John Moag, and he still owns a home in La Jolla. His wife is from San Diego.

Q  When will the Padres be sold?

A  Typically it takes about nine to 12 months to sell a baseball club, said brokers Moag and Steve Greenberg -- but a deal could come together sooner. As long ago as January, potential buyers and Selig knew that the Moorad's bid might not gain approval from MLB's executive council and other club owners.

Q  What becomes of the money that Moorad and his partners paid Moores for a 49-percent stake in the club?

A  Moores received that money in payments from 2009-11. Moorad's group stands to recoup both that money and a considerable profit.  "Whatever we sell, they'll get 49 percent of it," Moores said.

Moorad worked as a CEO for three seasons and three offseasons and received an annual salary of about $3 million. Last month, he stepped down as CEO. Although his bid of becoming control owner is over, he certainly didn't return to his La Jolla home empty-handed.

Q  Will Moorad's partners attempt to buy the club?

A  Moores said several scenarios are possible, but the 12 limited partners do not have right of first refusal. "That's was never part of the deal," he said. "It was never discussed."

Q What will be sold when a deal gets done?

A  A majority position, or more,  in the Padres. Some $200 million in debt also will be assumed by the new owner, and Greenberg said the new buyer will buy the Padres' 20-percent stake in Fox Sports San Diego. Correcting a report by the league's Web site, to which he spoke exclusively, Moores said he didn't buy a 51-percent position in FS San Diego.

Q Who's the likely biggest winner to the pending sale?

A  Moores appears to be sitting pretty. When the Dodgers were sold, an industry insider told me the price for the Padres could approach $700 million. When Moores bought a majority position in the Padres, he put up about $80 million. At the time, a labor stoppage gripped the industry. The previous season, the Padres ranked at or near the bottom in attendance, revenues and win-loss percentage. As this blog wrote several weeks ago, Moores has long been interested in buying an NBA club. One of the current brokers of the Padres' sale represented Moores in his attempt to buy the NBA's Atlanta Hawks last year. Proceeds from the Padres' sale could help Moores buy an NBA team.

 "I don't feel sorry for me at any step along the way," Moores said.

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1 comment:

  1. Wake up San Diego, STOP SUPPORTING THIS MAN! Stop going to games. Moores is a crook, plain and simple. Seemingly every year he complained that the club lost money. He used that as an excuse to not increase, and sometimes cut payroll. Now he stands to make 8X his investment, all on the backs of the Padres fans who built him a ballpark. I think its clear he did not lose any money on his investment. And now he gets the windfall of a billion dollar TV deal to help further inflate the asking price, and 40% of the fans are rewarded by not being able to watch the games on TV. And all of the fans are rewarded by watching a lousy team with the lowest payroll in all of baseball.

    Everyone always says he saved/kept the Padres in San Diego in the late 90's. Bullcrap. The FANS saved the Padres by agreeing (getting hoodwinked?) to fund the ballpark. The fans are getting screwed by this man right and left. In any other city this guy would have been chased out of town with pitchforks.