Group Still Wants Royals

Miles Prentice, whose $75 million bid to buy the Kansas City Royals was rejected last week by baseball, is refusing to quit.

The New York lawyer, with 11 members of his investor group standing behind him, said Monday he is keeping his offer on the table while the Royals seek other possible owners.

"I want you and this community to know that I am not removing from the table our proposal," Prentice said during a news conference. "As the board pursues its various alternatives, it can do so with the assurance that there is still a viable proposal on the table."

The Royals' board approved Prentice's bid on Nov. 13, 1998. But baseball owners voted 29-1 in September to table consideration on his bid, and baseball's top lawyer sent the Royals a letter last Wednesday saying Prentice will not be approved.

Baseball gave no reason for the rejection, and Prentice declined to speculate.

"The Royals' board is dedicated obviously to keeping the sale price at a minimum of $75 million," Prentice said. "But what would happen if the Prentice group withdrew its bid and the board were to be faced with a lower offer from another source?

"The board would be faced with a terrible dilemma: Sell the team for a lower price - or open up bidding to purchasers who would be granted the right to move the team at some point in the future."

Founding owner Ewing Kauffman, who died in 1993, directed that the team be sold to a buyer who would promise to keep it in Kansas City, and that money from the sale be used to fund charities in the area.

Kauffman's succession plan contained a six-year period to find an owner who would keep the team in Kansas City. That runs out Jan. 1, 2002, and after that, the team must be sold to the highest bidder with no guarantees of where it will operate.

"Our proposal becomes a conscience protecting the character of Mr. Kauffman's legacy," Prentice said. "Major league baseball would have to look this community in the eye and tell it that rather than having the Prentice group own the team, the Kansas City Royals should be put on the national auction block and sold to an owner with the right to move the team from Kansas City."

Prentice said "90 percent" of his investment group remains solidly committed.

"We have the $75 million even if a few people opt out," he said. "When the Royals ask for new bids and new proposals, ours will be there."

Prentice's group includes some of Kansas City's most prominent families, including golfer Tom Watson and former Negro leagues star Buck O'Neil.

"We're focused on going forward," Prentice said. "If suitable alternatives don't come forward, then I believe we will be able to find a way to addres whatever issues they may have had. But we don't know what those issues are. I've talked to a couple of members of the board. They support me."

Prentice said he was not planning any legal action against baseball. O'Neil said Prentice's personality may not be attractive to corporate-minded owners.

"I don't know how much of a chance he's got now," said O'Neil. "The powers that be in baseball have said no. My thinking is this

he's a baseball salesman in the image of a Calvin Griffith or a Bill Veeck, and that's just not where owners want to be these days."

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