New owner intends to increase Brewers payroll

Updated: October 4, 2004, 10:54 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- The buyer of the Milwaukee Brewers said Monday he doesn't plan any major changes to the ballclub -- in the field or the front office.

After days of speculation, the Brewers officially introduced Mark Attanasio, the Los Angeles investor who reputedly offered $220 million for the team.

Attanasio said that after meetings with staff and exhaustive reviews of the team's finances, he believes the Brewers are already on the right track to a winning season, despite coming off their 12th consecutive losing season.

"Now it's our job to start winning more games. Everything we do is going to be directed to winning more games," he said.

Wearing a wide grin and finally donning a Brewers cap -- he's superstitious and wanted to make sure the deal was a go -- Attanasio called purchasing the team the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

"This day is very special to me," he said.

Attanasio, 47, said he grew up a New York Yankees fan and wanted to be a big league player but gave it up when he realized he couldn't hit a curveball. Later, he said he set his heart on buying a team.

He said he was impressed by the Brewers' strong fan base, despite the losses, the team's revitalized farm system that is expected to produce young players in the next few years, and the will to win, even when they don't.

"The team has competed very hard right to the end of the season," he said.

As for team payroll, which is the lowest in the National League and a source of fan frustration, Attanasio said the business plan already called for raising it, but he would spend the next two months or so deciding by how much.

"It's very easy to come in as a new owner, do a couple of splashy signings and garner a lot of attention," he said, but "we want this team to be perennially competitive."

Team chairwoman Wendy Selig-Prieb said Attanasio has signed a letter of intent to buy the team. She called him a strong leader and steward for the franchise long controlled by the family of baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

"Mark was unrelenting in his pursuit of the club. That same aggressiveness, combined with his passion for the game, will enable Mark to be a very successful owner," Selig-Prieb said.

The sale agreement must be approved by at least three-quarters of the 30 major league teams, a process that usually takes 6 to 12 months.

Attanasio also has reportedly been searching for local minority owners but didn't talk about that Monday. He said he plans to set up a residence in Milwaukee, donate to local charities and work with business leaders.

The franchise started play as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and was bought by Selig in bankruptcy proceedings and moved to Milwaukee before the 1970 season.

Selig's family owns the majority interest in the team -- 26 percent -- but Selig hasn't drawn a salary since becoming commissioner full time in 1998.

The team had been for sale since January.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press