Pretty much as expected, the San Diego Padres sale to heirs of former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley — plus pro golfer Phil Mickelson and, according to the San Diego U-T, Ron Fowler — has gone through for $800 million. Padres owner John Moores and minority owner Jeff Moorad sealed the deal tonight.
As has been widely reported prior to the deal closing, $200 million of the $800 million is part of the payment that the Padres received when they recently did a 20-year, $1.4-billion broadcast deal with Fox Sports. Fowler, a San Diego businessman, had said that he wasn't front-and-center in the new investor group, but it appears that he has stepped away from the minority ownership group and is now assuming a role with the new owners.
Major League Baseball's owners still have to vote on the deal. They could do this on August 16. But the vote will likely be a formality, given that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has effectively given his blessing to the new ownership group. As David Carter, professor of sports business at the USC Marshall School of Business and the Executive Director of the USC Sport Business Institute, explained to me when we talked about the deal in early July:
"Bud Selig doesn't take that kind of position if he hasn't already counted the votes." He continued: "If we've learned anything in sports lately, it's that there's no premium on speed, but there there is a premium on getting it right. These are sophisticated businesspeople. They're going to to pay a price based on their expectation that they can build long-term value."
If approved, the Padres will become the third largest sale in MLB history, behind the Dodgers — sold to a group fronted by Magic Johnson for more than $2 billion — and the Chicago Cubs, at $845 million.
The sale of the Padres took longer than expected — it was initially thought it would go through in time for the All-Star game — but once exclusive negotiations between Moores and the O'Malley group began, it was clear that the deal would be much simpler than the previous change of ownership, with Moores selling the team over a five-year period, starting in 2009, for about $500 million to Moorad.
The Padres are currently in second-to-last place in the National League West standings. So the new ownership group has some work to do.