Angelos might bid again for Redskins

O's owner interested, but not at $800 million

April 13, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos said yesterday he will consider bidding for the Washington Redskins again but wouldn't be likely to match the $800 million offer that won the first round of bidding.

Angelos, who said he dropped out of the first round at $625 million, said that an $800 million bid would leave the club strapped for cash once the debt service was paid on the team each year.

"Our review of the numbers of all the details pertinent to the franchise did not establish that kind of a value [$800 million]," Angelos said. "You wouldn't have sufficient funds to build a winner, which is the ultimate goal. It's a great franchise, but it has to have a sound financial basis if I'm going to become involved."

New York developer Howard Milstein won the first round on Jan. 11 with an $800 million bid, but withdrew his offer last week when he saw he couldn't get the 24 owners' votes necessary to be approved because of his lack of cash in the deal.

Milstein's minority partner, Bethesda communications executive Daniel Snyder, has indicated he'll form a new group and might be willing to bid $800 million again. Sny- der had $50 million in cash in the first deal.

John Kent Cooke, whose father, Jack Kent Cooke, left him only 10 percent of his estate, including the team, bid $680 million the first time and said last week that his offer is still on the table.

Angelos said he is checking to see what the ground rules are for the second round of bidding and then will review the numbers again before deciding whether to participate.

Angelos wasn't happy that the trustees used a blind bidding process the first time.

"I don't like it because I think it allows for a lot of manipulation of the various interested parties by representatives of the seller. You might be concerned that you're bidding against a ghost bidder," he said.

He added, "If we're going to have an auction, let's have an auction and start bidding."

Angelos gained control of the Orioles in bankruptcy court in an auction for $173 million in August 1993.

But Angelos indicated he might participate in a blind bidding process if the price was right.

"If the numbers deliver the right price, maybe I'll accept an unacceptable bidding process," he said.

Angelos said the review of the numbers wouldn't take as long as it did the first time.

"We certainly have substantial background regarding the franchise from previous involvement, so it's a lot easier to make a determination," he said.

But Angelos said he'd be surprised if the review of the numbers supported an $800 million bid.

"Even if substantial cash comes with the transaction, I don't believe it elevates the price to $800 million," he said.

One thing Angelos wants to check is the trustees' assertion that the team comes with $50 million in cash available to the purchaser.

He said his examination didn't seem to indicate the team came with that much cash.

The purchase price will ultimately set a record.

Al Lerner set the previous record last year when he bought the Cleveland Browns for $530 million -- $476 million for the franchise and another $54 million in stadium costs.

The Redskins are worth more because they have 208 luxury boxes and 15,000 club seats, which is double the number in most stadiums. They gross about $140 million a year.

The Redskins also have a certain cachet because it gives the owner access to many Washington politicians although that's not of much value to Angelos because many of them already come to Camden Yards to see the Orioles play.

One potential problem for Angelos is the NFL stipulation that an NFL owner cannot own another sports team in another market that has other sports teams.

An owner can own another team in the same market or one in a market that didn't have another pro sports franchise.

That would start a debate about whether the Orioles are in the Washington market.

Angelos said he feels Washington and Baltimore have become one market, which would allow him to own the Redskins and Orioles under NFL rules.

Angelos said he's also considering the possibility of adding minority partners if he decides to make another bid.

Pub Date: 4/13/99

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