I've got a baseball team you can buy. The Houston Astros are for sale and 500 million is about all they are worth, but that's not how much the current owners want for them.
On Friday, long time Astros owner Drayton McLane announced that the Astros are now up for sale. McLane and his family have owned the team 18 years. They bought the team for 171 million dollars in 1992. During their ownership tenure, the Astros have made 6 playoff appearances, the 2005 National League pennant and the opening of Minute Maid Park in 2000. McLane, who is 74, stated that one of the reasons he is selling now is estate planning issues. The family has hired Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company, a New York-based investment bank, to work with prospective buyers. Greenberg stated that it could take 6 to 12 months to sell the team.
Forbes Magazine earlier this year valued the Astros at $451 million. Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg bought the Texas Rangers in August by submitting a winning bid of $590 million. Word running around the Internet yesterday was that the McLane family was looking for more in the 700 to 800 million dollar range for the team. In my opinion, they will NEVER get that. The team as it sits is not worth that money. Not by a long shot. I think they could get over 500 million but not much more than 600 million and that would be stretching it. The only person to publicly acknowledge interest so far is Miles Prentice, a New York attorney who already owns 3 minor league teams.
The Astros opened last season with a $93 million payroll, but that was reduced dramatically by the end of the year following the trades of franchise icons Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. Throughout ownership of the Astros, Drayton and Elizabeth McLane have donated more than $30 million in charitable contributions, including almost $7 million through the Astros in Action Foundation, which was formed in 2000 to serve Houston and surrounding communities. The McLane's want the new owner, be it an organization or individual, to have very, very high standards, integrity, honesty, and that they willwant to do the very same things -- be a champion, and to really get involved.
I am sure that someone will step forward and buy the team and that it will take some time for that to happen as everybody, including the McLane's have to be happy with who is going to be the new owner. I don't think though that the team will go for much more than 600 million, it's just not worth it right now. So if you've got 500 million dollars you can get the Astros for a steal.