CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians chairman Patrick O'Neill said he would consider an offer from New York developer Donald Trump to purchase the club in the wake of David LeFevre's decision to pull out of a deal to buy the Tribe.
Trump, who has been looking for a major league baseball team, had shown an interest in purchasing the Indians, but O'Neill selected an offer by LeFevre.
LeFevre, however, pulled out of the agreement Wednesday because he was unable to reach an agreement with the team's minority shareholders over the sale of the team.
'I certainly would (consider an offer from Trump),' O'Neill said Thursday. 'I think he would do a great job for this team.'
Trump owns the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League.
Mayor George V. Voinovich went to bat for Indians fans by getting assurances from O'Neill that the Indians will play their 1985 season in Cleveland.
Voinovich, at a news conference Thursday, said O'Neill, who runs the team for the estate of the late owner F.J. 'Steve' O'Neill, told him he plans to run the team in 1985 and is excited about the prospects.
Voinovich said O'Neill told him that LeFevre, who withdrew a $41 million bid to buy the team Wednesday, is out of the picture but a new local owner is being sought. O'Neill said the team's board of directors will meet Monday to disuccs plans for next season and to inform board members about the failed attempt to sell the club.
According to the mayor, O'Neill said he will bring in new management to operate the team next season. Voinovich indicated that O'Neill meant front office management, not field management where Pat Corrales has been at the controls.
The mayor said he promised O'Neill that he will do anything he can to help keep the team in Cleveland and O'Neill said he would call on Voinovich, if necessary.
LeFevre said he withdrawn his bid because of 'a litigation gridlock' caused by a court challenge from minority owners. He did not rule out a possible future attempt to buy the financially troubled American League franchise.
A native of Cleveland, LeFevre told United Press International Wednesday that he was 'taking a few steps backward in order to clear the air.'
'We've been trying to settle this for the past five months,' he said. 'All agreements with Pat O'Neill had expired on Sept. 30, but I was still hopeful things could be settled.
'Sure, I'm frustrated. I've wanted to own the Indians for a long time, but this whole thing just didn't seem to click.'
The transfer of ownership has been blocked by three of the team's 51 limited partners. The trio -- Charles J. Neuger, Dr. Harry E. Goodman and Gary H. Hoffman -- maintain Pat O'Neill's proposed formula for distribution of the purchase among the limited partners is unfair.
Neuger, Goodman and Hoffman reportedly own a combined total of less than three percent of the Indians.
'I haven't totally put the thought of owning the club out of my mind,' LeFevre said, 'and I am certain the club will not move to another city. But, it's not the time anymore for me to remain involved. It may be later, but I don't know that for sure.'