DENVER - Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the San Diego Padres on Thursday to a group that includes the O'Malley family and pro golfer Phil Mickelson.
Commissioner Bud Selig announced the endorsement after the conclusion of the owners meetings in Denver.
MountainStar Sports Group said on Thursday that the sale of the San Diego Padres will have no impact on the process of acquiring a Triple-A franchise for El Paso.
"The acquisition process is still proceeding in a normal manner, with the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball currently reviewing the Control Interest Transfer ("CIT") application submitted by MountainStar Sports Group at the end of July," according to a statement released by MountainStar Sports Group.
MountainStar Sports Group is trying to acquire the Tucson Padres, the Triple-A team of the San Diego Padres.
Under the San Diego Padres deal, the group will buy the Major League franchise from John Moores for around $800 million. The final closing of the sale will be on or before Aug. 31.
The new ownership group includes Kevin and Brian O'Malley, the sons of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley. Peter and Tom Seidler - the nephews of Peter O'Malley - also will be involved in the deal. Two of the four are expected to move to San Diego.
"This group knows what it takes to compete," Selig said. "They're very optimistic. I'm optimistic. I've gone over their projections, gone over everything. I think their projections are optimistic, but realistic. This is a good day for baseball.
"I think Padres fans have a right to be very happy today - very happy."
Ron Fowler, chief executive of Liquid Investments, is set to become controlling owner and executive chairman, Peter Seidler said. He also gave a vote of confidence to CEO Tom Garfinkel and general manager Josh Byrnes.
As for what name this new ownership group may operate under, Seidler smiled and said, "The Padres."
"Really, the 'Padres Group,'" he said. "We want the attention and spotlight to be on a great product on the field. We're going to be supportive and do everything we can to bring that down to San Diego. We're a bunch of Padres up here."
The agreement with the new group came months after Jeff Moorad's attempt to buy the team on a layaway plan collapsed. Moores' deal with Moorad, who began his attempted purchase of the club in 2009, was valued at about $500 million. Moores' divorce forced him to put the team on the market in 2009.
Selig said it's going to be difficult to say farewell to Moores.
"I saw him this morning and I got very emotional," Selig said. "John did a lot of wonderful things for baseball. Very helpful for me, during a time when things weren't, frankly, as great as they are right now. I know it's the right thing for him to do. Believe me, I like John Moores a lot. He did a lot for this sport - a lot."
Selig said he was amazed at the ease with which this deal got approved by the owners.
"There's always a little bit of a problem here or a problem there," Selig said. "They were very cooperative. They came in and had all of their work done. It was just easy. There was no other way to say it, it was just easy."
The price for this sale was inflated thanks to a deal with Fox and the recent sale of the Dodgers for $2 billion.
San Diego fans hope a change in owners can turn around the Padres, who regularly have had one of baseball's lowest payrolls and have largely struggled since reaching the 1998 World Series. The Padres are 52-67 this season and sit in fourth place in the NL West.
"We're looking for a long, consistent ownership group here," Fowler said. "As a San Diegan - I've been there for 30-plus years now - I think it's great for baseball in San Diego, that the O'Malley family and the Seidler family are going to be the owners. I'm looking forward to having some fun over the next five to 10 years."
More on the MountainStar Sports Group's pursuit of Triple-A team
The Pacific Coast League's executive committee on July 30 announced it had unanimously approved the preliminary application review (PAR) application by MountainStar Sports Group, bringing a Triple-A team one step closer to being moved to El Paso.
The PCL's president sent a letter to El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson, which stated that a Control Interest Transfer application has been sent to Minor League Baseball and that review has started.
"Because the Ownership Group has already been approved under the PAR process, we expect the CIT review to be straightforward and we do not anticipate any issues," PCL President Branch B. Rickey said in the letter.
Joshua Hunt, a partner in MountainStar Sports Group, said the PAR approval letter from Rickey was a very positive sign from the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball.
"This is all part of the baseball process, and it's a big step forward," Hunt said last month. "There are other necessary steps of approval, but we're getting very close."
Hunt added that this is big, positive news for the City.
"This is as close as this City's ever been in its history to having a Triple-A, professionally-affiliated team," Hunt said. "That's exciting, and it's a tribute to El Paso that our community was carefully vetted by Minor League Baseball and the PCL. Our City can be proud of that; there are only thirty Triple-A Baseball teams in the country."