Lucchino adds Padres to his team shopping list

August 27, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

For the second time in a month, former Orioles president Larry Lucchino has surfaced as a possible buyer for a major-league baseball franchise.

Lucchino, an Orioles executive for 15 years until leaving the club dTC last fall, is engaged in talks aimed at purchasing the San Diego Padres, according to two sources familiar with those discussions. His partner in the bid is Texas investor Robert Moores, the sources said. Moores recently was granted exclusive negotiating rights by the Padres owners.

Lucchino did not return a phone call to his office yesterday, but he has acknowledged forming an investors group attempting to buy another major-league club, the Pittsburgh Pirates. That sale is being brokered by city of Pittsburgh officials, who are in the process of soliciting offers.

The Pirates and Padres are so-called small-market franchises that owners claim have been hardest hit by escalating player salaries and shrinking revenue from national television contracts. Owners of both franchises put them up for sale, claiming mounting financial losses.

The teams are bargain-priced compared to other recent baseball sales. The bidding for the Pirates is expected to begin at $95 million with the Padres expected to bring even less, perhaps no more than $85 million. When the Orioles were sold last year, owner Peter G. Angelos and his partners paid $173 million.

Talks between Moores and Padres officials are at an early stage, according to the Texas investor. "We're just to first base right now," Moores told the Associated Press earlier this week. The Texas investor could not be reached for comment on his venture with Lucchino.

Moores has made other attempts to buy sports franchises, including two bids in the past three years for the NBA's Houston Rockets.

Lucchino's partners in the Pittsburgh bid are an eclectic group that includes a professional athlete (Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino) and a syndicated newspaper columnist (George Will). Like Lucchino, who grew up in Pittsburgh, most have ties to Western Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh officials plan to choose about half a dozen bidders from a group of 25 interested in buying the team, then begin

serious negotiations within two months.

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