Braves prez: Fans should expect 'transparent' transition

Updated: February 13, 2007, 5:55 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves president Terry McGuirk said Tuesday fans should expect a "transparent" ownership transition if the team's sale from Time Warner to Liberty Media is approved by Major League Baseball.

The agreement was completed on Monday after more than a year of negotiations. The parties hope the sale can be affirmed by baseball before Opening Day; 75 percent of MLB owners must approve the deal.

McGuirk says the Braves, under the ownership of Liberty Media, will look much like the Braves under Time Warner, including the continued leadership of general manager John Schuerholz and manager Bobby Cox.

"Yes, I think as an operating theory this is what is contemplated," McGuirk said. "I've used the word transparent. I think that is a good description of how it will affect the organization. I think there will be no changes."

The agreement for the sale includes the transfer of approximately $1.27 billion in Time Warner shares from Colorado-based Liberty Media to Time Warner.

Time Warner is expected to transfer the Braves, a group of craft magazines and $1 billion in cash to Liberty in exchange for about 60 million shares of Time Warner. The agreement was designed to minimize taxes.

Schuerholz, Atlanta's general manager since October 1990, said Braves fans "should get great comfort" from expectations for a "seamless transfer."

"The fact of the matter is our team is still together, our management team is still together and we're continuing to work to try to build this franchise," Schuerholz said Tuesday in a telephone interview from the Braves' spring training site near Orlando.

"We'll continue to do our work in the same fashion and same manner and same level of energy as we always have to try to build a championship team for the Braves," he said.

Time Warner has been shopping the Braves since December 2005. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Atlanta real estate executive Ron Terwilliger expressed interests in buying the team, but Time Warner has negotiated exclusively with Liberty Media since April 2006.

Because of the complex tax implications of the deal, in addition to possible concerns about no local representation in the proposed new ownership, there is no assurance that baseball's approval will come quickly.

"I can't characterize how baseball will review this," McGuirk said. "It's up to baseball. As it was stated, application has been submitted and it's up to baseball to deal with it."

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, confirmed on Monday that baseball "received certain of the sale documents today but have not yet reviewed them."

DuPuy said baseball staff will go over the documents to make sure they meet baseball's usual sale rules.

"It will then go to the ownership committee, then will go to the executive council, then will go to the clubs," he said.

Owners are not scheduled to meet before May.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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