Selig family sells to Attanasio

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Major-league owners unanimously approved the $223 million sale of the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday from the family of commissioner Bud Selig to a group headed by Los Angeles investor Mark Attanasio.

Attanasio, 47, is committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee, thanks to a 30-year lease to play in Miller Park.

Although approval was assured beforehand, Attanasio said it was an emotional moment when he walked into the room and was given a standing ovation by the other owners.

"It's indescribable," Attanasio said.

The sale is to close Friday, when the ownership transfer will take place.

Attanasio grew up in the Bronx and has been a lifelong baseball fan.

"It's probably a labor of love," he said of his decision to buy the Brewers. "But what's better? I love the game of baseball, and it's a new challenge for me."

Attanasio has been a group managing director of the Trust Company of the West, a money management firm, since 1995.

Selig's daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, has been in charge of the franchise since her father became commissioner in 1998. The team has struggled to be competitive in recent years but has made several player moves in the offseason thanks to the prospect of new ownership.

"We must field a competitive team," Attanasio said. "Frankly, I think we've taken a big step this year developing young players, who we need to continue to develop. We need to continue to put money into the farm system. And then frankly we need to figure out a way to get another $10 million into the payroll over the next couple of years."

The club currently has a payroll of slightly more than $40 million.

"We're going to look at different business initiatives that will help us raise the money," Attanasio said.

He said there already are examples of small market teams becoming winners.

"The A's, the Twins, the Marlins," Attanasio said. "The Marlins won the World Series with a $50 million payroll. But where we want to start is to be a competitive team, then we'll go from there."

Milwaukee was without baseball after the Braves moved to Atlanta after the 1965 season.

Selig has said that bringing baseball back to Milwaukee by acquiring the bankrupt Seattle Pilots in 1970 was "my proudest accomplishment."

"It's the end of a 40-year journey," he said in introducing the new owner. "If somebody would have told a 29-, 30-year-old kid back in 1963-64 that the journey would take four decades, it's pretty remarkable."

The sale of the Brewers means baseball fans in Milwaukee don't have to worry about losing another team, the commissioner said.

"Now they don't have to go through what people went through in '64 and '65, when the Braves were leaving Milwaukee," Selig said. "There is no question about it. So whatever the controversy was about the ballpark or anything else, the Brewers are there. They're secure, and they're a marvelous asset."

Attanasio said there was never any interest in moving the team.

"The community, the passionate commitment of the fans and the fact there was a state-of-the-art ballpark were all positives," he said. "I wasn't interested in going to look for a team that needed to be moved."