Panel Blocked Bid to Give Padres to City of San Diego

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From Associated Press

The former owner of the San Diego Padres tried to give the franchise to the city of San Diego, but dropped the proposal after a baseball owners’ committee declined to consider the plan.

Joan B. Kroc finally sold the club for $75 million to a 15-member group that included 11 San Diego investors. She declined to discuss her earlier attempt to give the club to the city, along with a $100-million trust fund to operate the franchise.

But Mayor Maureen O’Connor, a close friend of Kroc’s, confirmed that the former owner approached her with the idea last fall and that the mayor discussed it with City Manager John Lockwood.


“Mrs. Kroc was definitely serious. It would have been the coup of the century for the city,” O’Connor said.

“I was shocked when she offered it and I was excited about the opportunity for the city, and we thought we could do it,” O’Connor told the San Diego Union in a story published Sunday. “Unfortunately, they (the baseball committee members) turned her down.”

Shortly after announcing on Oct. 17 that the Padres were on the market, Kroc called O’Connor and set up a luncheon to discuss her proposal.

“She always kept saying, ‘I have the city of San Diego’s best interests at heart,’ ” O’Connor said.

The mayor said she immediately went to Lockwood to discuss Kroc’s proposal.

“He felt very strongly that we could have some sort of a no-profit (corporation), especially when she was offering $100 million in a trust fund,” O’Connor said. “That is pretty good operating capital. Plus, it would guarantee the team would stay in the city forever.”

Lockwood is on vacation and unavailable for comment, but O’Connor said he told her that there was a precedent for a community-owned franchise. The Green Bay Packers Inc. of the National Football League is a nonprofit corporation, governed by 45 directors and a seven-member executive committee.


The Union said that, according to sources, members of the eight-member owners’ screening committee discouraged Kroc from pursuing her proposal. The committee is chaired by Peter O’Malley, president of the Dodgers.

He declined to discuss the Padres transaction, but when asked his reaction to a baseball franchise being owned by a municipality and operated as a nonprofit entity, O’Malley said: “It sounds impractical, but I really haven’t thought it through.”