MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to accept an
offer from Los Angeles investor Mark L. Attanasio to buy the team
from the family of baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Daniel Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, said
Monday that he was told the team had selected another buyer and a
lawyer in baseball, speaking on the condition of anonymity,
confirmed that Attanasio's offer was orally accepted by the
Brewers' board last week.
Attanasio and the team are in the process of drafting the sale
agreement, the lawyer said.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, citing unidentified sources, reported the deal price was between $180 million and $200
million. The Anaheim Angels, playing in a larger metropolitan
area, sold for $182 million last year.
The Brewers' acceptance was first reported by the Journal Sentinel on its Web site.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Brewers have chosen another
direction in the sale of the club," Gilbert said. "After nearly
eight long months of negotiations, I believed we were on the verge
of announcing a deal when I was informed of the Brewers' decision
to sell the team to another party."
Steve Greenberg, a New York-based investment banker handling the
sale for the Brewers, said "a decision is imminent," and he
expected it to be announced by the end of the week.
"Despite everything else that's been swirling around today,
there's nothing to announce at this point," Greenberg said.
Attanasio's spokesman, Bill Mendel, declined comment Monday.
The franchise started play as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and was
bought by Selig in bankruptcy proceedings and moved to Milwaukee
before the 1970 season.
Selig's family owns the majority interest in the team -- 26
percent -- but Selig hasn't drawn a salary since becoming
commissioner full time in 1998.
Attanasio is a chief investment officer in the investment firm
Trust Company of the West, which provides asset management services
to foundations, including the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in
The Brewers were believed to be seeking more than $180 million
for the team, which has been for sale since January. A sale
agreement must be approved by at least three-quarters of the 30
major league teams, a process that usually takes six to 12 months.
Two financial reviews conducted earlier this year show the
Brewers have a $133.2 million, debt although the figure has since
dropped. Entering the season, the Brewers' debt ranked 11th out of
30 teams, but was below the industry average of $140.2 million.
Over a 10-year period ending in 2003, the Brewers had a net
operating loss of $28.8 million, ranging from a loss of $15.7
million in 1999 to profit of $12.1 million last year, according to
the financial reviews.
The team will record its 12th straight losing season on the
field but over the weekend hit the 2 million attendance mark, its
approximate break-even point.
Gilbert said that during negotiations he saw the "passion,
loyalty and dedication the fans in Milwaukee have for the Brewers.
I will always be grateful for the many e-mails and letters I
received encouraging me to purchase the team during this process.
It is truly one of the great sports towns in America."