Ellison: Owners said 49ers not for sale
SAN FRANCISCO -- Billionaire software executive Larry Ellison said Friday that he inquired about buying the San Francisco 49ers only to be told by the current owners that the team isn't for sale.
Ellison, the flamboyant chief executive of Oracle Corp., confirmed his interest in the 49ers in response to a shareholder question posed near the end of the software company's annual meeting in Redwood Shores, Calif.
The 49ers are owned by Denise DeBartolo York and her husband, John York. The couple, who live in Ohio, have become increasingly unpopular in Northern California as the 49ers -- a franchise with a record five Super Bowl championships -- have deteriorated into a last-place team.
"The Yorks aren't selling, so I'm not buying," Ellison said.
Confirming media reports earlier this month, Ellison said he has shifted his football interests to the Los Angeles area, which hasn't had a football team since the Raiders returned to Oakland a decade ago.
The National Football League wants a team in Los Angeles, possibly through expansion, to fill a void in the nation's second largest media market.
In his remarks Friday, Ellison didn't provide details about his football discussions in Los Angeles.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month that several other NFL owners hoped to persuade Ellison to buy the 49ers because of worries about the team's deteriorating performance and the Yorks' inability to get a new stadium built.
Ellison, 60, ranks among the world's richest men. His stake in Oracle alone is currently worth about $16 billion.
In the sports world, Ellison is best known for his love of yachting. He led a team that unsuccessfully vied for the America's Cup last year.
Ellison made it clear Friday that he wants to own a professional sports franchise. He also revealed that he has tried to buy the Golden State Warriors, but was spurned by the basketball team's owner of the last decade, Chris Cohan.
Ellison's company also is interested in acquisitions. Oracle has been stalking one of its biggest rivals, PeopleSoft Inc., with a hostile takeover bid for nearly 17 months.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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