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Owners Approve Sale of Cincinnati Reds

January 19, 2006

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Baseball owners unanimously approved the sale of the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday to a group headed by produce mogul Robert Castellini.

Carl Lindner, the 86-year-old Cincinnati financier who owned the franchise since DeWitt, had three potential buyers whose offers were roughly the same but chose Castellini largely because of his local ties. Lindner will remain a minority partner.

Terms weren’t announced, but Castellini’s group is said to be acquiring about 70 percent ownership of a franchise worth an estimated $270 million.

The Castellini family founded a shipping company along the Ohio River in 1896, 27 years after the Cincinnati Red Stockings became baseball’s first professional team. Today, the company is one of the largest shippers of fruit and vegetables in the United States.

Castellini chose not to discuss his acquisition of the team on Thursday. He saved his comments for a news conference at Great American Ballpark on Friday.

``Mr. Castellini wanted his first comments to be live and in public before the fans of Cincinnati,″ Castellini spokesman Joe Bride said. ``He wanted to talk directly to the fans of Cincinnati from Cincinnati.″

The new ownership group includes brothers William Jr. and Thomas Williams. Castellini and the Williams brothers were part of fellow Cincinnati resident Bill Dewitt Jr.’s ownership group of the St. Louis Cardinals.

They take over a franchise with a storied history but with no playoff appearances since 1995. The Reds have had five straight losing seasons, their longest slump in 50 years.

The Williams family owned part of the Reds until local car dealer Marge Schott bought controlling interest in the team in 1984. The Reds won a World Series in 1990 but Schott’s often-offensive remarks overshadowed anything the team did on the field.

Under pressure from Major League Baseball, Schott sold her controlling shares for $67 million to Lindner’s group in 1999.

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AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this story

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