FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- John Henry appears on the verge of bailing out on the Florida Marlins before Major League Baseball even decides if it will do the same thing, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
A published report said Henry has reached an agreement to sell the Marlins to an undiclosed buyer who plans to keep the team in South Florida and that the deal could be approved as early as Tuesday.
Major League owners will meet next week in Chicago to further discuss contraction plans first raised earlier this month.
Although the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins appear the
franchises most likely to be folded, the Marlins are by no means assured of fielding a team in 2002.
However, this agreement would seem to indicate that the Marlins will not be eliminated.
If the deal, which is unrelated to MLB's contraction plans and
needs approval by 23 of baseball's 30 owners, goes through, it
would be the third ownership change in nine years for the
Marlins, who won the 1997 World Series after a spending spree by Wayne Huizenga.
After the Marlins defeated the Cleveland Indians in a memorable seven-game Series, Huizenga quickly began dumping salary and eventually sold the organization to Henry in 1999 for $150 million.
Huzienga paid a $95 million expansion fee for the team in 1991, two years before the Marlins took the field. Forbes Magazine earlier this year valued the franchise at $128 million.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the prospective new owners will
fork over $150 million for a team that has several young stars
but finished 76-86 this past season and is a combined 273-374
over the last four years.
While the Marlins have struggled on the field, their biggest problems are off the field, specifically in the stands, where the erratic South Florida summer weather and Pro Player Stadium, which was built for football, have kept fans away.