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Baseball tells Mariners to get permission first

December 19, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Baseball officials have told the Seattle Mariners that they must first get approval from the sport’s leadership before starting negotiations with any potential buyers.

Seattle’s owners, frustrated with the slow process of gaining approval for a new ballpark, announced Saturday that the team was for sale.

``Their intent to sell is understandable and we support them,″ AL president Gene Budig said Wednesday. ``Major league baseball shares their keen disappointment. Owners of the Mariners have shown their intent and commitment throughout the process. They felt that they were without options.″

Budig and acting commissioner Bud Selig sent the Mariners a letter telling them the team’s situation will be discussed when the sport’s ruling executive council meets Jan. 14 at Scottsdale, Ariz.

According to the letter, the text of which was made available to The Associated Press, baseball officials cited their ``control interest transfer guidelines of Aug. 23, 1993.″

``We authorize you to publicly announce that the Seattle Mariners are for sale,″ Selig and Budig told the team. ``You are reminded that you must specifically obtain permission under the guidelines before entering into negotiations with any potential purchaser or before making any further public statements.

``Together, we are saddened that the situation has come to this. However, given your yeoman efforts to try to make baseball successful in Seattle, we will do whatever we can to help expedite the sale process for you.″

Seattle’s current ownership, which bought the team from Jeff Smulyan’s group on June 30, 1992, for $106 million, is headed by Hiroshi Yamauchi, president of Nintendo Co. Ltd. of Kyoto, Japan, who put up $75 million of the group’s $125 million capitalization.

The chairman and chief executive officer is John Ellis, the former chairman of Puget Sound Power & Light Co.

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