After months of would-be buyers kicking the tires on the Atlanta Braves, an investment group led by Ron Terwilliger, president and CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, has emerged as a leading candidate to purchase the baseball franchise from Time Warner, ESPN.com has learned.
Terwilliger has been approved by Major League Baseball to enter into negotiations that could lead to the purchase of the NL East club. That means he has been given clearance to go through the team’s books and conduct due diligence on the franchise’s operation. Terwilliger met Tuesday in Atlanta with other potential investors, and the investment group has retained New York-based Galatioto Sports Partners to represent it in negotiations.
On Dec. 13, 2005, Time Warner acknowledged its interest in selling the Braves, winners of an unprecedented 14 straight division titles. Since then, local media in Atlanta have been fixated on the possibility of Falcons owner Arthur Blank gaining dominance of the Atlanta market with the purchase of a second pro franchise. Sources close to the negotiations, however, suggest that Blank’s interest might have been oversold to advance the bidding, noting also that it is unlikely a public company like Time Warner would sell the club off a single bid.
Blank, who amassed a fortune as co-founder of Home Depot, stepped away from negotiations last month.
Terwilliger fits Major League Baseball’s preference for local ownership, as he has headed the Atlanta-based Trammell Crow since 1986. The company ranks as one of the largest developers of apartments and condominiums in the country, and has assets in excess of $3 billion.
An honor graduate of the United States Naval Academy (Class of ’63), Terwilliger served five years in the Navy before receiving his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.
Last year, Forbes.com estimated the value of the Braves at $392 million, which ranked them eighth among baseball franchises. The sale of the club is likely to fetch something close to $400 million. Unless the process speeds up dramatically, it’s doubtful any sale will be final until late in the season, at the earliest.
It will be nice to get rid of the penny-pinching AOL/Time Warner cabal that has presided over the recent departure of so much talent. As the article notes, the management of the club, including GM John Schuerholz and Manager Bobby, is excellent. If it weren’t for their leadership in recent years with some of the rough starts and loss of stars, the team would not have continued their division win streak. However, they were seriously hamstrung by tightened purse strings and it will be good to get a local owner back in charge.
Cross-posted from Backcountry Conservative.
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