Offer from Arizona the likely winner

Updated: February 14, 2005, 8:55 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

MINNEAPOLIS -- Glen Taylor's aggressive attempt to buy the Minnesota Vikings from Red McCombs appears to be short of Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler's offer.

Taylor, who owns the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, said Sunday that he believes Fowler's group has reached an agreement to purchase the NFL franchise from McCombs for $625 million.

ESPN.com learned from league sources late Sunday night that Fowler has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the Vikings, and that an announcement of the accord could come as early as Monday.

"Our offer was not in [the $625 million] area," Taylor said, confirming a written proposal he made earlier this month that included three different scenarios.

Two of those options, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Sunday, dictated that the purchase price would rise if a new stadium were built. But none of the alternatives matched the bid Fowler's group put together, and Taylor had not heard back from McCombs since making the offer less than two weeks ago.

"I was given a message that they were going to respond and then they didn't," Taylor said at Target Center just before tipoff of the Timberwolves game. "That's when I started to assume that they already had something with Reggie."

Both McCombs and Fowler have been mum since beginning a short-term agreement to negotiate exclusively, but Taylor has spoken frequently and openly about his recent push.

Taylor inquired about submitting another bid once the period of exclusivity had begun and was told by the McCombs camp it was OK.

"We gave them a number of alternatives and said if none of these work out with you, come back with how you would change it," Taylor said. "We weren't like, 'This is the last or final offer.' "

But with no response from San Antonio, where McCombs has his office, Taylor sounded resigned to Fowler buying the team. That doesn't mean it's a done deal, though, because league rules require 24 of the 32 owners to approve a sale.

The NFL also mandates that a general partner must put down 30 percent of the cash portion of any franchise purchase, and little is known about Fowler's personal wealth -- though the Arizona Republic reported Saturday that he's worth more than $400 million.

Vikings spokesman Bob Hagan said Sunday night there were no plans for an announcement. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello didn't immediately return a phone call.

NFL owners are scheduled to meet in March in Maui, so the process could take awhile.

Little is known about Fowler's personal wealth, but the Arizona Republic reported Saturday that he's worth more than $400 million.

McCombs bought the Vikings in 1998. Since then, they've sold out every home game and made the playoffs four times in seven seasons -- twice advancing to the NFC championship game.

Unhappy with a lack of progress toward a new stadium, McCombs put the team up for sale in May 2002.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE