Payne had four years left on deal

MILWAUKEE -- Ulice Payne Jr.'s short reign as president of
the Milwaukee Brewers ended Friday when he agreed to a contract buyout.

The settlement followed a feud that escalated nearly two weeks
ago when Payne criticized the team's plan to cut payroll 25 percent
to about $30 million next year, which could be the lowest in

Payne became the first black team president in major league
history in September 2002 when he replaced Wendy Selig-Prieb, who
took over as chairwoman of the team's board of directors. Payne had
a five-year contract.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the buyout is worth
about $2.7 million and includes a 1 percent equity option in the

The settlement contains a confidentiality clause that prevents
either side from publicly commenting on it. Payne and Brewers board
members did not return calls to The Associated Press.

"I wish the team the best and the fans the best as I leave. No
hard feelings," he said on Milwaukee television news Friday night.

Payne will receive all of his payments within four years if he
does not violate the confidentiality agreement, the paper reported.

Payne has said that the negotiations slowed in recent days as
both sides worked on a confidentiality agreement and severance
packages for three employees who joined the Brewers to work with

The rift became public when Payne told the Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel on Nov. 9 that the team planned to cut its payroll next

Payne has said he went public with his criticisms because he
feared the cuts might hurt the team on the field and make it
difficult to revive a floundering franchise that hasn't had a
winning season since 1992.

Brewers executive vice president of business operations Rick
Schlesinger and chief financial officer Bob Quinn, however, said
Payne had signed off on the budget.

In a written statement Friday, Payne said he was proud of his
accomplishments during his 14-month stay with the Brewers.

The team won 12 more games during Payne's only season than the
previous year but still finished last in the NL Central at 68-94.

Attendance at Miller Park has declined in the last two years.
The Brewers drew 2.8 million fans in 2001, the year the stadium

The team attracted nearly 2 million fans in 2002 and 1.7 million
in 2003.

With Payne's departure, the team will be led by Schlesinger,
Quinn and general manager Doug Melvin. John Canning, a member of
the team's board of directors, will lead the search for Payne's