As Padres apathy mounts, sale process could drag on

This might be the perfect storm of Padres apathy.

San Diego might lose 100 games, not that very many people would see them. The Padres’ attendance has fallen by one-third since Petco Park opened in 2004, and the Padres’ broadcasts have been blacked out in much of San Diego all season because Fox Sports and Time Warner Cable are fighting over money.

In some cities, the mayor would shame Fox and Time Warner into getting the home team back on TV. In San Diego, better to worry about getting the home team sold.

The news is not necessarily good on that front either, with the possibility that the Padres might not have a new owner in place by the end of the season.


The three apparent finalists -- the O’Malley family, Orange County communications magnate Gary Jabara and Los Angeles investment advisor Steve Kaplan -- all are leading bid groups with multiple investors.

That could mean months of background checks and financial evaluations by Major League Baseball after a sale is announced.

“There is no Stevie Cohen here who is going to write a check,” said one person familiar with the sale process, referring to the East Coast multi-billionaire who finished second in bidding for the Dodgers.

The best hope for a quick sale had been Cohen, who took a look at the Padres’ books and passed. The next best hope had been another Dodgers runner-up, with an investment partnership that already had been scrutinized by MLB.

But neither Jabara nor Kaplan was involved in the Dodgers’ bidding, and O’Malley’s money would be coming from a consortium of Southern California investors, not the South Korean conglomerate that funded his Dodgers bid.

With outgoing owner John Moores still waiting for a party to meet his $800-million sale price, it is possible other bidders could emerge. However, in the absence of a mystery billionaire, that would slow the process too.


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