Valued at around $1 billion by Forbes, the Boston Red Sox could be on the market, according to Fox Business Network.
Charlie Gasparino, a reporter for FoxBusiness, wrote that Fenway Sports Group “could be mulling a potential sale of the storied baseball franchise, and have even begun quietly shopping the team to potential buyers.”
Financier John Henry is the principle owner of FSG and formerly owned the then Florida Marlins. Television producer Tom Werner and Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino are also part of the ownership group. FSG also owns English football team Liverpool FC, and according to Gasparino FSG executives are “debating whether they have the financial resources to run both teams, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.”
Operating two expensive sports franchises could be stretching Henry thin, according to Gasparino’s article.
Gasparino wrote, “Fenway Sports purchased the Liverpool team for $476 million in 2010, and has been widely criticized for overpaying for players who have under-delivered.
“By weighing a sale of the Red Sox, Henry could devote more resources to the Liverpool team. Also, unloading Liverpool is considered more difficult compared with a franchise with the name recognition of the Red Sox, despite its lousy 2012 season.”
On Boston sports talk radio station WEEI this morning, Lucchino called talk about FSG selling the team “nonsense.”
“As I said, they feel the same kind of competitive juices that the fans feel, that I feel. There’s an opportunity here to put the team back on the track it was on for a decade,” Lucchino told WEEI. “…There has not been one word, one word of discussion regarding that. We are committed, better or worse, we are the guys to kick around.”
This afternoon, Henry released a statement that was published by Boston.com, “A sale of any kind is so far from our thinking it hasn’t even come up apart from technical planning issues involving death or disability. This report is completely without foundation.
“Regarding unnamed sources: Any sale discussions that may have taken place were missing three key people — Larry [Lucchino], Tom [Werner] and me. The Sox and any of the other components of FSG are not for sale and will not be for the foreseeable future.”
One of the most historic professional sports franchises, the Red Sox would have tremendous appeal to potential buyers. Since Henry bought the team in 2002, the Red Sox have won two World Series titles. Fenway Park has undergone hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations and enhancements over the last decade and is here to stay for the long term, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
The fan base is national and supports the club at Fenway and at ballparks across the country. The team also recently unloaded around $250 million in unattractive contracts to Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in a trade with the Dodgers.
If the Red Sox are sold before the end of the year, that would make 2012 active in terms of Major League Baseball teams changing ownership hands.
Guggenheim Baseball, which includes Magic Johnson, agreed to pay $1,587,798,000 in cash and assume debts of no more than $412,200,000 to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt, the Los Angeles Times reportedin April.
In August, Major League Baseball announced the sale of the San Diego Padres from John Moores for around $800 million to a group that includes PGA golfer Phil Mickelson,and Kevin and Brian O’Malley, the sons of former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley.