Detroit Tigers Sale Finalized
DETROIT (AP) _ Detroit Tigers owner Tom Monaghan made official Thursday what everyone has known for weeks: The team has been sold to Mike Ilitch.
Ilitch, who owns the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, had met with a committee of major league baseball owners earlier to state his case for buying the Tigers.
In a written statement, Monaghan said the Tigers’ price tag would be undisclosed, but it has been widely reported to be between $80 million and $90 million.
″Selling the Tigers to Mike Ilitch is in the best interest of Detroit, given his dedication to the city, his experience in operating the Detroit Red Wings, and his commitment to carrying on the Tigers tradition,″ Monaghan said in a statement.
″The future of the Tigers’ organization is now in the good hands of the Ilitches.″
Al Sebastian, a spokesman for Ilitch, said his boss wouldn’t comment until the deal is closed and approved by baseball owners.
But in an interview with Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, made before Monaghan’s statement was released, one-time minor league baseball player Ilitch said he was buying the team because he loved the game.
″Baseball was something I did for the first half of my life, something I wanted to do always, my only real desire and goal in life,″ he said in the interview published Thursday.
″... When I didn’t succeed at the major-league level, that’s something that stays with you the rest of your life. To have the opportunity to come back and perhaps restore the aura of what I consider one of the best franchises in the country, that’s something, yes,″ Ilitch said.
Major league owners are to decide next week whether to approve the Tigers’ sale. Officials have indicated an owners’ committee will recommend approval.
The team is going from one pizza baron to another. Monaghan has sold numerous assets and been trying to sell the Tigers this year, saying he wants to concentrate on running Domino’s Pizza Inc., his Ann Arbor-based chain. Ilitch owns Little Caesars Enterprises Inc.
Monaghan bought the club in 1983 from the late John Fetzer. Ilitch also owns the Detroit Drive of the Arena Football League.
Monaghan already has been appearing to clear the decks for new ownership. Last week, he fired club president Bo Schembechler and chief executive officer Jim Campbell. He took over running of the club himself.
Under Monaghan’s ownership, the Tigers won one World Series, but later lost players such as Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris to free agency. The club was 13 games out of first in the American League East through Wednesday’s games.
Monaghan has been a long-time proponent of a new Tiger Stadium, but officials have been squabbling over whether to build a stadium in Detroit or move it to a suburb. A fans’ group favors renovating the old park.
Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, a proponent of a downtown ballpark, expressed pleasure at the purchase by Ilitch.
″Mike Ilitch is an outstanding citizen of this city,″ Young said in a statement. ″He has been an enthusiastic participant in the revitalization of Detroit through such activities as the ownership of the Red Wings, the operation of Joe Louis Arena and Cobo Arena, the ownership of the Fox Theatre building and the general activities in the revitalized theater district created by his renovation of the Fox.″