Angelos' share of O's expected to cost him $32 to $50 million

John Steadman

August 30, 1993|By John Steadman

Figures are being put into place and for the first time there's definitive information on how the Baltimore Orioles' new ownership group will be structured financially. An accountant associated with the deal told The Evening Sun that the dominant player, Peter Angelos, may personally invest anywhere from $32 million to $50 million in the purchase.

This is dependent on one variable: the number of partners joining him when the sale finally is stamped for approval. That's why Angelos' role as the leading money man, which could encompass 51 percent of ownership, is deemed to be so important. He is capable, if need be, of making up any differences that exist in bringing the record transaction to a conclusion.

To this point, all that's known is Angelos will carry full authority to run the franchise. That was the agreement when he put up the most money and organized the group that bid $173 million for the Orioles in bankruptcy proceedings in early August.

Second to Angelos among the lineup of investors is Tom Clancy, the author whose latest book, "Without Remorse," has reached the top of the New York Times best-seller list in only three weeks. Clancy, it's understood, already has written a check for $20 million and also made plans to buy a condominium in Baltimore so he'll be closer to the team, rather than commuting daily from his home in Southern Maryland.

Not all the financial facts concerning the Orioles are in place, but what's exceedingly important is that Angelos has the resources to make up any shortage that might develop.

Other substantial partners in the Orioles effort include Bill DeWitt Jr., and associates from Cincinnati. They represent, collectively, a reported $10 million investment. This is understood to be the same amount that will come from Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, who heads the Merry-Go-Round clothing stores.

A $3-$4 million investor is Steve Geppi, who has achieved outstanding success operating Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. of Baltimore. Others involved in buying the franchise include tennis player Pam Shriver and ABC sportscaster Jim McKay. Both live in Baltimore County, which adds to Angelos' promise of strong Maryland identities.

A resident of Silver Spring, Roger Blunt, a West Point graduate and retired Army general, will join Shriver and McKay in the investment process and fulfill a role of prominence in club operations.

Incidentally, Shriver, McKay and Blunt were brought into the Orioles picture by Hal Donofrio, who heads the advertising agency that bears his name. "I've been told my role in this is bringing people together," said Donofrio. "I must tell you the more I observe Angelos, the more impressed I am with his capabilities."

An unusual link, strictly coincidence, is an association with Loyola College for five of the owners. Angelos, Clancy, McKay, Shriver and Mike Sullivan, who is associated with Weinglass in the Merry-Go-Round enterprise, became acquainted as members of the board of trustees of Loyola. It makes for an interesting sidelight.

The same accountant who provided much of the above insight into the deal insisted that money accrued in Orioles profits this year, a figure projected at somewhere between $20 million and $30 million, will be used to reduce the total purchase price. This would drop the bottom line from $173 million to around $150 million.

When Angelos was contacted and asked about the reliability of the quoted numbers, he merely replied, "It would be premature and inappropriate to comment one way or the other. You must remember the major leagues are still moving toward our approval. The final papers of transaction between ourselves, [outgoing Orioles owner] Eli Jacobs and the courts have not been signed."

Pressed for some kind of a declaration as to the validity of this reporter's information, Angelos said: "I'm sorry but I can't give you the reaction you are after."

As to the bank, or a combination of banks, handling the negotiations for the loan that will go along with making the entire deal possible, a decision has not been made.

Angelos insisted he would not make any moves until he is officially approved by baseball. However, whether the obligation from the Baltimore group is $173 million or $150 million, the sale will make it the most expensive in the history of North American professional sports teams.

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