Lawrence Dolan, an Ohio lawyer and brother of Cablevision
Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan, agreed to buy the Cleveland Indians Major League
Baseball team in a deal valued at about $320 million in cash and debt.
The price would be the highest paid for an MLB franchise,
beating out News Corp.'s Fox division's purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers last
year for $311 million.
Lawrence Dolan -- who has attempted to buy other sports
franchises, including the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins of the National
Football League and MLB's New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds -- said his pending
purchase of the Indians will have no effect on Cablevision.
"I will be the CEO," he said in a prepared
statement. "I will control 100 percent of the voting rights. The balance of ownership
will be held by Dolan family trusts. My brother, Charles, will not be involved in the
ownership of the team or in these family trusts in any way. Cablevision is not involved in
the ownership, either."
Lawrence Dolan has a law practice in nearby Chardon, Ohio.
His sons, Paul and Matthew, are lawyers in the firm.
Cablevision -- which owns a system with about 305,000
subscribers in the Cleveland area -- has been carrying Indians baseball for several years
on Fox Sports Net Ohio. FSN Ohio is a regional sports network owned by Regional
Programming Partners, a partnership between Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings Inc.
programming arm and Fox Sports. The contract, which runs for another three years, will
likely be unaffected.
Brian Upton, a spokesman for Lawrence Dolan, had no comment
on the television contract.
Cablevision also declined comment, but it is widely
believed that the Indians purchase will have no effect on the company.
The team sale is also not expected to affect
Cablevision's planned sale of its Cleveland cable system. The company is looking to
sell its properties in Boston and Kalamazoo, Mich., as well. A deal is expected by
Cablevision, through its Madison Square Garden subsidiary,
owns the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks and the National Hockey
League's New York Rangers.
The deal also has to be approved by major-league owners,
who have taken between six and 18 months to approve earlier franchise sales. The Indians
expect the Dolan purchase to close in the first quarter of next year.
Although certain details still have to be worked out, which
will ultimately determine the purchase price, the deal has a market value of $320 million.
Indians shareholders will receive between $22.25 and $22.75
per share. Lawrence Dolan will also assume about $35 million in company debt.
Richard Jacobs, the majority shareholder in the franchise,
has said that he would vote his stock in favor of the purchase.
Shares of Indians stock, traded over-the-counter, closed
unchanged at $20.63 each Nov. 4.
The deal will also include operation and management of the
Indians' ballpark, Jacobs Field, which will retain its name at least until the 2006
Richard Jacobs and his brother, David, since deceased,
bought the struggling Indians franchise in 1986 for $45 million.
Although Jacobs turned the club into a perennial powerhouse
-- it won its division the past five years -- the team's stock has been sluggish,
trading as low as $5 per share after an initial public offering last year of $15 each.
Richard Jacobs put the team on the block in May, enlisting
the help of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and McDonald & Co. Investments Inc.