Business of Baseball Report

Twins’ Stadium Saga Continues

Things seemed to be proceeding nicely in the latest chapter of the Minnesota Twins’ pursuit of a new stadium. The Minnesota House of Representatives voted last week to allow the Hennepin County sales tax increase without a public vote. This increase would be used to pay the lion’s share of what Twins owner Carl Pohlad is hoping will be the Twins’ next stadium. Then on Monday, the Minnesota Senate Tax Committee threw a wrench into the whole thing and unanimously voted that county residents should have a say in whether their sales tax is increased. From that point on, all hell broke loose and talk of a brand new multi-county sales tax increase is being discussed, and even if that passes, there are conflicting bills in the two houses.

This story is developing as I was wrapping up this column, although I have a special treat, and that’s an inside look at what’s been going on in the Minnesota legislature the past few days. John Krapeck, who blogs at Friendly Confines, works for the Minnesota legislature as a clerk and on his blog, he gives you a blow-by-blow account of what’s been happening the past few days in the state’s capitol. It’s a great read, so be sure to check it out.

Atlanta Businessman Makes Last-Ditch Effort to Buy Braves

Ron Terwilliger, the chairman and chief executive officer of Trammell Crow Residential and Atlanta resident, has called on Time Warner to abandon plans to sell the Atlanta Braves to Colorado-based Liberty Media. A tax-free exchange between Liberty Media and Time Warner that involves Liberty Media giving Time Warner their stock holding in Time Warner in exchange for the Atlanta Braves and cash appears to be close to a done deal. Terwilliger is making a last-ditch effort to ensure that the team will be sold to an Atlanta-based company, and his group was supposed to have issued a bid for the team earlier this week.

Asset sales like this are extremely messy, and the tax hit can sometimes exceed a third of the cash proceeds for which the company sold the asset, so it’s hard to blame Time Warner for wanting to do the deal in this manner. There’s always the chance that MLB commissioner Bud Selig will step in and decide who the Braves will go to, but my initial thoughts are that he would like a corporate owner. Corporations have to answer to their shareholders, so they’re more likely to be more prudent in keeping costs down, including player salaries.

MLB Announces Lerner as New Nationals Owner

Yesterday, MLB announced that the ownership group led by Theodore Lerner, a local real estate developer, will be the next owner of the Washington Nationals. The announcement came a day before the groundbreaking for the Nationals’ next stadium. Earlier in the week, two Washington, D.C. council members spoke out against the decision, because they feel that the Lerner group doesn’t have enough minority representation.

This ends an almost four-year period where the league owned the Nationals, and while the change of ownership won’t be approved until the owners’ meeting later this month and the closing of the deal won’t happen until sometime next month, it finally puts an end to the whole Expos/Washington/Nationals saga. I’m just disappointed because it pretty much gave me something to write about every week. And it just feels like I did when I saw the Return of the King a few years ago. You’re happy that you’re finally getting a chance to see it, but your sad because you know the story is now finished.

City of Anaheim Considering Appeal of Angels Name Change Decision

It’s funny how some of these stories just never go away. The Anaheim City Council is considering whether or not to take the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim back to court after losing its initial battle over the Angels’ name change. In this instance, it’s hard to tell whether this is a bluff or not. There’s a rumor that the city is willing to put the appeal aside if the Angels don’t come after the city for court costs. As it stands, the Angels spent close to $7 million and they’re currently trying to get that money back from the city. The deadline for the city to file their appeal is June 5, 2006.

Yusaku Iriki Suspended for 50 Games for Using Perfomance Enhancing Drugs

New York Mets reliever Yusaku Iriki became the first player that’s signed to a major league contract to get suspended under the new substance abuse guidelines. As a first time offender, he’s getting the new minimum suspension of 50 games. Like similar suspensions last year, the player wasn’t the sterotypical power hitter that most people would expect to get these kind of suspensions, and this now tips the scales and there have been more pitchers suspended than there have been hitters.

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