Sox bidding enters critical week

Monday, December 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Developer Frank McCourt planned to drop out of the bidding for the Boston Red Sox but is talking to another group about building a stadium on his land near downtown Boston, a source close to the discussions said Monday.

McCourt has previously said he would only build the stadium on his site near the city's financial district if he wins the bidding for the team. But McCourt is now talking to one other group of bidders about cutting a deal, and may talk to others if given permission from the team, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

``At some point a marriage is possible, if not likely,'' the source said.

The Red Sox have proposed building a new stadium near the current Fenway Park, and one ownership group has proposed renovating the nearly 90-year-old stadium. McCourt's proposal is considered by many to be the only viable option.

The source declined to identify the group. The Boston Globe reported Monday that McCourt has discussed a stadium deal with the group led by Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan.

The sale of the Boston Red Sox entered a critical week with some would-be buyers reportedly working on new offers ahead of a 5 p.m. Monday deadline for revised bids.

The winner, originally expected to purchase only the Yawkey Trust's majority stake in the team, is now expected to offer up to several hundred million dollars more to buy out the team's minority owners as well.

The trust has scheduled a meeting for Thursday with the minority partners to discuss the offers. Red Sox chief executive officer John Harrington is likely to invite one leading bidder to the meeting, but could still invite several, according to the source.

The Globe has reported that the two leading bidders so far are groups headed by television producer and former San Diego Padres owner Tom Werner, and a group headed by New York lawyer Miles Prentice that is backed by The Quadrangle Group, a private equity firm.

Both groups have reportedly already informed the Red Sox they are willing to spend $655 million or more to buy out the Yawkey share and the team's minority partners.

That would trounce the previous baseball franchise record: $323 million paid for the Cleveland Indians last year.

Local developers Joseph O'Donnell and Steve Karp also are expected to submit revised bids, the Globe and Boston Herald reported. Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the FleetCenter and Boston Bruins, is expected to drop out.

Phone messages for O'Donnell and for a spokeswoman for Jacobs were not immediately returned Monday.