Agreement in place for Padres sale to local group
SAN DIEGO -- John Moores, the majority owner of the Padres since 1995, has signed an agreement to sell the National League team to a group that would be headed by long-time local San Diego businessman Ron Fowler and include the nephews and children of former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, Moores told MLB.com on Monday.The sale tentatively is on the agenda for the Aug. 16 quarterly ownership meeting in Denver and must receive 75 percent of the vote of the 29 other owners or their representatives to pass.The price of the club is $800 million, Moores said, including a 21 percent stake in FOX Sports San Diego, a new regional sports network that began this season."It's been a long time coming," said Moores, who began the process of selling the team to a group headed by Jeff Moorad in March 2009. "It's on the agenda for the August meeting, and I'm optimistic that Commissioner [Bud] Selig and the other 29 owners will approve it."Major League Baseball sources confirmed that the owners have been notified about the tentative Padres docket item. MLB is currently involved in due diligence, sifting through paperwork with the hope of having the process completed in time to take a vote at the meeting. Fowler replaced Moorad this season as head of the group of limited Padres partners, which owns 49 percent of the club. Fowler is expected to represent the organization at all league meetings. O'Malley's son Kevin and nephew Tom Seidler will represent the family in a group that also includes pro golfer Phil Mickelson, a San Diego native.Peter O'Malley and his father Walter owned and operated the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles from 1950-98."This brings a long baseball blood line to San Diego," Moores said. "I couldn't be more pleased. I feel like I'm handing over the club to the right people." Fowler, the CEO of Liquid Investments, a San Diego beer distributorship, would be the first locally-based control person of the Padres since founding owner C. Arnholdt Smith. Smith, a banker and transplanted San Diegan, bought the team when it expanded into the NL in 1969 and sold it to McDonald's founder Ray Kroc in 1974, saving it from a move to Washington, D.C. Kroc was a Chicago native. The next ownership group was headed by current Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, a New York native and Hollywood television producer.Moores was born and still resides at least part of the year in Houston. He bought a majority share of the Padres at the end of the strike season in 1994 from Werner and his group of 15 owners for about $80 million. Under his watch, the Padres helped build Petco Park, which opened in 2004, and have been to the playoffs four times, losing the 1998 World Series in four games to the Yankees.Moores said that he was ambivalent about the pending sale. He was not in town for the team's six-game homestand against the Mets and Cubs that began on Friday night. Instead, he's opting for some private time with his family at Petco Park after the sale is approved and when the team is out of town. He said he would attend the owners' meetings next week."I'd say there's ambivalence with an emphasis on relief," he said. "We've been working pretty hard to get this done for a long time. Just the pressure to sell the team has been considerable. There was no realistic way to not sell once we went down that path." Moorad had a five-year window to purchase the majority share of the team, but ultimately he didn't get approval. The Moorad group's inability to buy the Padres for an agreed price of $525 million turned out to be a windfall for Moores. This year, the Padres signed a new $1.2 billion television contract with FOX, bringing their annual broadcast package from $14 million a year to an average of $60 million. The Dodgers were sold in May for $2.15 billion. Both events had a major impact on the escalated sale price of the Padres, Moores said."There's no question that the market lifted in the last year," he said. "A lot of that seems to be attributable to the new generation of TV contracts. I think that's what drove the Dodgers value up so much. I don't think we'll have any problems with the sale this time around. This one is so solid. I don't foresee any outstanding issues."Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.
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