Club's sale to be 'low-key'

June 07, 1991|By John Steadman | John Steadman,Evening Sun Staff

Oriole owner Eli Jacobs said today that if he sells the Orioles he will take a "low-key" approach.

Jacobs also said he has not pondered or discussed a likely purchase price for the club.

Jacobs said he did not initiate the idea of putting the team on the market but that after being approached by interested parties, "I began to think I deserved to take a look at the possibility."

He insisted that if the Orioles don't attract what he referred to as the "right kind of buyer," the transaction won't be finalized.

At the same time, Jacobs left no doubt the Orioles are available under proper selling conditions.

Then he explained what he emphasized was a strong preference for a Baltimore-oriented owner.

"It's still an informal process," he said in a telephone conversation from his New York office. "If I don't get the right buyer, then I won't sell. At this point, the quality of the purchaser would be the most important thing."

Would a group of Baltimore-based buyers, rather than a single in

dividual, fit the description of an acceptable kind of ownership?

"I haven't thought that far ahead," Jacobs said. "This is a subtle distinction in considering the possibility of a sale. We are not entering a selling mode."

Jacobs, when asked to approximate a sale price if indeed he sold the team, again politely declined to project a figure, even though the cost has been estimated to be $100 million and up.

"I never make those kind of assessments on any of my businesses," he said.

Have the Orioles provided him with any source of enjoyment during the two-plus seasons he has owned the team?

"Yes, a lot of it," Jacobs said. "I have been working 168 hours a weekand for 2 1/2 years I have been trying to get to Florence, Italy, for a vacation. The closest I have gotten was to spend a day and a half in Venice, and Venice isn't Florence."

Jacobs contrasted his position with that of the National League's Houston Astros: "The Astros are in a selling mode. We are not in that kind of a mode. It may never happen. If it's not the right buyer then we won't sell."

He reiterated that the possible sale of the team will be "low-key" -- that if he doesn't get the proper purchaser, obviously with adequate financing and what he perceives as having the other credentials, he will continue in the baseball business.

Jacobs plans to see the Orioles' weekend games against the TorontoBlue Jays at Memorial Stadium and to view the Persian Gulf victory parade in Washington tomorrow.

It was pointed out to Jacobs that the Washington Post had made the disclosure that the sale of the Orioles was possible and this seemed inappropriate since the team operates in Baltimore.

The owner replied that a Washington reporter was doing a feature story on him and that the subject came up in their conversation.

"I was brought up in the tradition to tell the truth and I replied accordingly," Jacobs said. "It was no effort to give them an edge over Baltimore because, as most everyone knows, I am on the board of directors of the Times-Mirror Corporation," which owns The Evening Sun.

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