Henry: Marlins Deal Is Off

Prospective Florida Marlins buyer John Henry says his deal with team owner Wayne Huizenga is apparently dead.

"I was told tonight there's no reason to talk further," Henry said late Wednesday.

Henry reached a handshake agreement Sept. 1 to buy the Marlins for $150 million, but following weeks of contentious negotiations, the deal bogged down because of a dispute involving the team's cable television contract.

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  • "I thought I've had a deal for over two months," Henry said in a telephone interview. "Every time I think that, I realize that I don't have a deal."

    The agreement was on the verge of collapse at least twice earlier. This time, Henry said, he doesn't expect negotiations to resume.

    "At some point, one has to face reality," he said. "We had a deal on Sept. 1, and it's now Nov. 4. The deal kept changing. It's been two months of a lot of hard work and thought and expense for nothing."

    The millionaire commodities trader from Boca Raton said negotiations hit a snag more than a week ago. Henry then set a Tuesday deadline for completing the agreement.

    "There was really only one issue," he said. "I was advised by a number of consultants not to agree to it. I tried to find a way to agree to it."

    Henry declined to discuss the problems with the television contract, which has been an obstacle in negotiations from the beginning.

    Huizenga had a pending 27-year rights contract between the Marlins and SportsChannel Florida, a cable network that he owns and wants to sell. The long-term agreement makes SportsChannel Florida more valuable but limits the Marlins' future TV revenue, and Henry was reluctant to accept such a long-term commitment.

    The Marlins have been for sale since June 1997. After the team won the World Series last year, Huizenga ordered the roster dismantled and Florida plunged this year to 54-108, the worst record in the National League since 1969.

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