Clancy outlines financing, encouraged by NFL talks Vote on Vikings purchase still several steps away

May 12, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Best-selling Maryland novelist Tom Clancy outlined his financing plan to purchase the Minnesota Vikings at a meeting yesterday with NFL officials in New York.

Clancy's partner, Marc Ganis, said the Clancy plan includes 19 investors who'll put up "substantially more" than the $205 million purchase price to cover operational costs, including the money to fund the team's free-agent signing spree in the off-season.

The next step in the process is for Clancy to make a presentation to the league's finance committee at the owners' spring meeting in Miami next week.

The proposed purchase is unlikely to come to a vote at that meeting, but may be approved shortly thereafter. Twenty-three of the 30 owners must vote to approve the sale.

Clancy told the Associated Press that he opened his financial books and presented a list of co-investors. "If you make a presentation and nobody makes an objection, it's pretty encouraging," Clancy said.

He also said he emphasized his interest in the game, "the usual, the stuff you say, 'cause I love football."

Despite reports out of Minneapolis that there were problems with Clancy's financing plan and that his pending divorce may make it difficult for him to go through with the purchase, Ganis said the Clancy group showed it has the financial muscle to close the deal.

Clancy will be the 30 percent majority owner who will control the team, but Ganis said that reports out of Minneapolis that Clancy would put up $60 million were too high. Clancy is currently a minority investor in the Orioles.

"I thought the meeting went quite well," Ganis said. "We're more confident now [that the deal will be closed] and we were pretty confident before."

Ganis said that the group has arranged a loan with Citicorp, USA. League rules limit the team debt to $75 million.

Although six investors were identified earlier, Ganis declined to identify more of them until the sale is completed. Ganis said that actor Tom Selleck, who had been mentioned as a possible investor, is not currently a member of the group.

Five of the current Vikings owners -- Wheelock Whitney, James Binger, John Skogland, Philip Maas and Betty MacMillan -- will join Clancy's group along with businessman W. Duncan MacMillan, the first cousin of Betty MacMillan's husband.

Clancy's bid to buy the team was first accepted by the majority of the Vikings owners in early February, but the sale was delayed when current team president Roger Headrick claimed he had the right to match Clancy's offer, which was about $20 million more than his.

After studying the matter for seven weeks, commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled that Headrick, who has continued to run the team until the sale is finalized, didn't have the right to match the offer.

But Headrick has hoped that if Clancy ran into problems with his financing, he could retain the team.

Pub Date: 5/12/98

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