Friday, February 29, 2008

Should the Phillies' Ownership Sell the Team?

Bill Conlin of The Philadelphia Daily News suggests that the ownership should sell if they're not willing to face up to the reality that salaries are rising. Conlin's article presents an excellent discussion of the Phillies' ownership and the issues that they'll face in the upcoming years. Conlin posits -- and I agree -- that if the Phillies' ownership isn't willing to face the reality of having to pony up more money for Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, among others, they might as well put the "for sale" sign on the team. He did indicate that at least two groups are interested, and I would submit that if the ownership group hired an investment bank to sell the team (and, ownership, if you read this, Goldman Sachs has a good group in this area, I've read), they'd draw many more interested parties. One person I'd pitch the team to is Stephen Schwarzman, a Philadelphia area native who has made billions with his NYC-based hedge fund, Blackstone Group. Schwarzman has the big bucks, and, well, Philadelphia is pretty close to NYC. It will take his level of wealth to help keep the team competitive and enable it to win a World Series.

Former 76ers "owner", Pat Croce, is interested and apparently has put together a group. Croce touted himself as the "owner" of the 76ers about a decade ago. While he is very enthusiastic (and fun to hear and see), Croce doesn't have the kind of money it takes to buy a team like the Phillies and only owned less than 10% of the 76ers when he was their president. My hope for the Phillies is that if the ownership were to sell the team, they'd do so to one main, majority owner with the huge dollars necessary to help put and maintain the team at an elite level, as opposed to a syndicate that might have the same fights over cash calls on limited partners that the current ownership group might.

Okay, so the economy is down, but it's seldom down for those with huge bank accounts. The Phillies by no stretch are down, and they'd make an attractive purchase for the right owners. It's always good to sell when you're hot, so if the Phillies' ownership is interested in selling -- ever -- now would be a good time.

Phillies' fans had to endure, as Conlin points out, the silliness of one-time team president Bill Giles saying that the team operated in a "small market." Let's hope that this current era won't be deemed "small minded."

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