Hal Steinbrenner says family has no intention of selling Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees are not for sale. Not now and, if the Steinbrenner family has its way, perhaps not ever.

Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees' managing general partner, says that despite a recent Forbes Magazine story valuing his team at $3.2 billion -- the second-most-valuable franchise in professional sports, worth nearly 400 times what Hal's father, George Steinbrenner, paid for it in 1973 -- the family has no intention of selling the ballclub, and in fact intends to see it under Steinbrenner family ownership for generations to come.

"I think all of us feel that way," Hal Steinbrenner, the youngest of George Steinbrenner's four children, told ESPN in a wide-ranging interview this week in his office at the spring training facility that bears his father's name.

"This is a family business and we're all involved," he said, referring to siblings Hank, Jennifer and Jessica. "We all love being a part of this. We all know our dad wanted us to be a part of us, and we all know he's watching down on us and happy that we're all a part of it. Believe it or not, to us, that's a big deal. The idea is, let's keep it going."

In fact, there are already long-term plans in the works to have George Steinbrenner's grandchildren eventually take over operations of the team. According to Hal Steinbrenner, Stephen Swindal Jr. (son of Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal), George Michael Steinbrenner and Julia Steinbrenner Vinas (son and daughter of Hank Steinbrenner), Robert Molloy (son of Jessica Steinbrenner Molloy) and Hal's daughter Katherine are all interested in being part of the next generation of Steinbrenners to run the Yankees.

"It's already been discussed," Hal Steinbrenner said. "We got a lot of grandkids, and they're very interested. The idea is, it's time to let the young elephants in the tent, in George's words. So it's begun."

A syndicate headed by George Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973 for $8.3 million, some $5 million less than the previous owner, CBS, had paid for it nine years earlier. (According to Bill Madden's biography of George Steinbrenner, The Boss' investment was a mere $168,000.)

To a self-proclaimed "finance geek" -- Hal Steinbrenner used the term to describe himself in 2012 -- such a phenomenal return on investment would seem too good to pass up. But the 47-year scion said selling the Yankees was "not on our radar screen,'' and that money was hardly the deciding factor in the family's desire to retain control of the team.

"It's our way of keeping our dad's legacy alive,'' Steinbrenner said. "People that know us know we didn't have the biggest house on the street. My dad loved Oldsmobiles. We had a Buick station wagon. We don't have yachts. We don't have huge estates. We don't have the lifestyle that would even necessitate us to even think about doing something like that. What the hell for?''

Under the Steinbrenners' 43-year ownership, the Yankees have been to the World Series 11 times -- winning seven -- and have won the AL East 18 times during 23 playoff appearances. The Steinbrenner family currently holds about a 50 percent share in the Yankees and 20 percent of the YES Network, and industry analysts estimate a sale of those assets would net the family in excess of $1 billion, a sum that would be split equally among the four siblings.

"I've never talked to anybody at Forbes to try to figure out how they do that," Steinbrenner said of the magazine's valuation, which placed the Yankees' value second only to Real Madrid ($3.26 billion) and tied with the Dallas Cowboys.

"Whatever the number ends up being, it ends up being," he said. "If it's a billion dollars, it's a billion dollars. If it's half a billion, it's half a billion. Whatever it is, it's all money that we don't really need."

The Steinbrenner family reportedly reaped a $584 million windfall in 2012 when it sold off some of its ownership of the YES Network to Rupert Murdoch and Fox, which now controls 80 percent of the Yankees' regional sports network.

"We wouldn't have done it had [James Murdoch] really not understood we're a family business," Steinbrenner said. "YES is the Yankees. To us, there's no difference, and we still had to have a lot of say when it comes to programming content, announcers, because this is our brand."