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Potential bidders lining up for Red Sox

Lawyer handling sale says interest is unprecedented

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press, 10/17/00

BOSTON - So many people have expressed interest in buying the Boston Red Sox that the top bidder might not be identified by opening day.

The lawyer handling the sale for the Jean R. Yawkey Trust, which owns 53.5 percent of the team, said Tuesday he has been swamped with potential buyers.

"There are only so many jewel franchises around,'' said Justin Morreale, of the law firm Bingham Dana. ''... and they don't come up for sale that often.''

Chief executive officer John Harrington announced Oct. 6 the trust established by former owner Jean Yawkey would sell its stake - a move that comes as the team struggles to complete a financing package for a new Fenway Park. Harrington said then that he hoped to have a top bidder identified by next season; the potential owner would then have to be approved by major league baseball, which could take another six months or more.

But Morreale said Tuesday that Harrington's timeframe didn't anticipate the flood of interest. It is not unusual for a sale to take as long as two years before it is final, Morreale said.

Harrington has said he personally heard from more than 30 potential buyers; Morreale wouldn't say how many people have officially expressed an interest, but he said it was more than have ever been involved in the bidding for a baseball team before.

All potential bidders are being sent a thick binder with two applications - one from the team and one from major league baseball. They'll be asked for personal information - where they'll get their money, if they have links to gambling, whether they plan to move the team - and information about the structure of the ownership group.

In the five-part application required by the major leagues, the bidders are also asked what they'll do with the team once they get it, including estimated revenues and expenses for the first three years. The application also includes a release to allow major league baseball to conduct a background check.

Applicants must also send in a $25,000 non-refundable deposit.

Only then does the bidder get to see the team's books. Those who want to continue will begin a bidding war - it hasn't yet been decided whether it would involve sealed bids or an auction.

Applications will be available until the current owners are satisfied they have enough bidders to get the best possible price. Terms of the trust require it to sell to the highest bidder, though baseball could reject the trust's choice and go with a bidder it finds more attractive for other reasons.

The sale must also be approved by a majority of the limited partners, but Morreale said he didn't expect that to be a sticking point.

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