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New York Lawyer Hopes To Buy Royals

July 9, 1998

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ New York lawyer Miles Prentice came to Kansas City on Thursday in hopes of wooing hometown investors and improving his chances of becoming the next owner of the Kansas City Royals.

Prentice spent the day meeting with potential investors in a bid to bolster his odds against a group led by Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and the Topeka, Kan., utility company, Western Resources Inc.

``He’s been meeting with influential people in the community and talking about his commitment to baseball in Kansas City,″ said Michael Grimaldi of Corporate Communications Group, the Kansas City public relations firm representing Prentice.

Grimaldi said Prentice received a warm reception in Kansas City and felt that it had been a productive visit.

``In the back of my mind, I always thought of the possibility of owning a major league franchise, but I never particularly identified a franchise,″ Prentice said Thursday. ``Kansas City has come on the horizon, so that’s my primary interest.″

Prentice’s early chances seemed dim because the main duty of the Royals’ board of directors was to pick an owner who would cement the team to Kansas City.

Prentice has no known connection to Kansas City, other than a niece who is married to a Kansas Citian. That left Prentice with the task of persuading big-name Kansas City investors to join his ownership group so the directors and the community would feel comfortable with him.

In April, Hunt and Western Resources dropped a bomb when they announced they had submitted a joint bid to buy the team.

Their news conference was highly publicized, and the Hunt-Western Resources group was widely seen as the front-runner, fan favorite and coming savior of the Royals. That scared off some would-be local investors in Prentice’s group.

Since then, the situation has changed. Negotiations for selling the baseball team have become bogged down, mainly over money.

Prentice’s bid doesn’t seem hampered by money, although no one will speak publicly about the amount of the bids.

Royals president Michael Herman tipped his hand slightly two weeks ago when he announced that Royals directors would delay selecting a winning bidder.

At the time, Herman said: ``We have some people who are not willing to pay the ($75 million) price we want. And we have another group that doesn’t have enough local ownership.″

That left the impression that unless Hunt-Western Resources or any other bidders improved their offers soon, Prentice’s offer could be good enough to buy the team _ if he uses the extra time to sign more big-name local investors.

Prentice told The Kansas City Star over the weekend that he would not announce his Kansas City investors, saying only that ``it’s important for them (the potential investors) to feel that we can be successful.″

The Hunt group did not want to comment directly about Prentice. But Tim Connolly, president of the Hunt Sports Group, said, ``Should someone come forward with a superior bid _ and that means one with the financial wherewithal to sustain major league baseball long-term in Kansas City or one with a greater commitment to Kansas City than we bring to the table _ then we would fully understand the Royals’ decision to sell to that individual.

``Having said that, we still believe we represent the best opportunity, long-term, for major league baseball in Kansas City,″ he said.

In another sign of positioning, Corporate Communications Group said it had gotten the blessing of the Royals to arrange an interview with Prentice on Saturday in Texas.

That was a reversal from a few weeks ago, when the Royals urged bidders not to talk to the news media.

Dean Davison of Barkley & Evergreen, the Royals’ public relations firm, said the team decided to let Prentice step into the limelight to help counter the press attention on the Hunt-Western group and to a lesser extent on a bid by Bobby and George Brett.

``It got down to a fairness issue,″ Davison said.

He said the Royals would no longer object if other bidders wanted to speak publicly about their bids.

Neither Connolly nor Bobby Brett would agree to an interview.

``We’re under a confidentiality agreement with the Royals, and we’re going to stick with what we signed up for,″ said Bobby Brett, who has not hired a public relations firm.

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