Red Sox attorney says high bid for team flawed

Thursday, December 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Cablevision Systems Chairman Charles Dolan, who lost his bid to buy the Boston Red Sox, is talking to the winning group about running the New England Sports Network, according to published reports.

Dolan, who lost to a group led by Florida Marlins owner John Henry last week, is one of several media executives talking to Henry's group about joining as an investor with an agreement to operate NESN, according to spokesmen for the winning group. An 80-percent stake in the network is included in the team's sale.

``Dolan and Henry and their attorneys discussed it briefly, but no agreement has been reached,'' said Joseph Baerlein, a spokesman for the group led by Henry and television producer Tom Werner. ``However, the Henry-Werner group is primarily focused right now on lining up more local investors.''

Henry reportedly doesn't want to sell the 80-percent stake in NESN. But Dolan, if brought in as an investor, could operate the network.

Through a Cablevision subsidiary, Dolan already has a stake in NESN rival Fox Sports Net, which has 22 regional sports networks including Fox New England.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the Red Sox took further steps Wednesday to defend how the team handled the bidding, giving more details on why the team rejected a $790 million bid in favor of a $700 million bid. Attorney General Tom Reilly is reviewing the sale to see whether that decision shortchanges the charities that would benefit from the sale.

Red Sox attorney Daniel Goldberg told The Boston Globe that New York attorney Miles Prentice failed to show the team a signed contract indicating a legally binding agreement with investors Comcast Inc. and the Quadrangle Group to provide the backup funds for the purchase.

A Prentice spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Globe Prentice did not name Comcast because it did not want to serve as a distraction from the company's $72 billion merger with AT&T Broadband. That deal was announced hours before Prentice raised his offer to $750 million and $40 million in assumed debt.

The Prentice spokesman said that Comcast, with a stock value of more than $30 billion, clearly had the funds necessary for the investment. Furthermore, Comcast did not need approval because the company was acting more as a lender, rather than a partner, in the bid.