Friday, November 4, 2011
Fred Claire talks of possibly teaming up
By Ramona Shelburne
Peter O'Malley. Fred Claire. Steve Garvey. Orel Hershiser. All Dodger greats, and in the last week, all became prospective Los Angeles Dodgers owners.
The Dodgers may have drawn minimal interest the last time they were put up for sale, but the field figures to be deeper and more competitive this time around.
Any chance the groups might work together or join forces eventually?
While he stressed that the three groups are independent now and have every intention of staying that way, Claire acknowledged that the bidding process could change that.
"I think it's conceivable that the people that are out there and have an interest now, those arrangements can change," Claire told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Friday afternoon.
"I think if you look back on major league history, that has happened. There are times when that has happened because you're talking about a tremendous amount of capital, and that may be in the best interests of people."
Claire, the former Dodgers general manager and executive vice president, announced this week that his investment group includes Ben Hwang, a former executive at an international biotechnology company and a onetime Dodgers batboy, and Andy Dolich, a former executive for the Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies.
The group is still formalizing its financing, but Claire believes it will able to "be a player" by the time the auction process starts.
He said that he hadn't intended to make his investment group's intentions known so early in the process, but felt compelled to go public when numerous media outlets contacted him following the announcement on Tuesday that the team would be sold in a bankruptcy court auction.
"I couldn't very well answer questions about who might buy the Dodgers or what the price might be without disclosing that I'd been working for several months with a direct involvement," he said.
Claire has kept in close contact with O'Malley, Hershiser and Garvey over the years. He had talked with Hershiser about his decision to work with Garvey's group before he first went public with the news, but admitted that he didn't know of O'Malley's plans before he disclosed them to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday evening.
"We've stayed in touch just because of our lifetime connections," Claire said. "At this point -- I don't want to mislead you -- we're not doing business together.
"But our ongoing relationships are always there. We're just driven by trying to accomplish what we need to accomplish and be open to any and all opportunities."
The ultimate goal, Claire said, is to ensure the Dodgers are placed in good hands.
"I don't see it as competition, I really and sincerely mean that," Claire said. "If we're there and Peter's there and Garvey or Orel and they're well-funded, they've got good people, what it'll mean to me -- at least from a personal standpoint -- is the Dodgers are in good hands and that's good enough for me."
No matter if the groups combine or not, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing for the next Dodgers owner to come from the team's hometown.
In a letter to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, Villaraigosa writes, "Dodger fans and all Angelenos deserve an owner who loves and believes in this city." He says it's important that the new owner "understands that the Dodgers and their historic baseball stadium are not just a team, they are a collective community asset."
The letter was dated Thursday and released Friday.
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.