Galatioto, founder of the New York firm Galatioto Sports Partners, said he has been approached by several buyers who would be interested in the Orioles if they were for sale.
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Oriole Park at Camden Yards, University of Maryland-Baltimore, 333 W Camden St # 1, Baltimore, MD 21201-2435, USA
While the Dodgers' sale will have an impact on the market for pro franchises, the sale price has been characterized by many economists as an outlier (most expected the team to sell for about half of what it fetched). Smith College professor of economics Andrew Zimbalist called it "extraordinary and surprising." Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan sports management professor, told ESPN it was "the craziest deal ever; it makes no sense."
But in the buying and selling of pro sports teams, the supply doesn't meet demand. Angelos bought the Orioles in 1993 for $173 million — $70 milliion more than had ever been paid for a baseball team.
Galatioto could not say how much the Orioles would sell for on the open market. Angelos' share of MASN, Galatioto said, is likely worth more than the club itself. MASN's revenue reached almost $159 million last year, according to an estimate published by The New York Times. Angelos began by owning 90 percent of the network, which televises Orioles and Washington Nationals games, but that percentage decreases each year until it reaches 67 percent.
When the Nationals relocated from Montreal, Angelos negotiated a guarantee from Major League Baseball that he would get at least $365 million in any sale of the Orioles. He would likely get much more.
"What would the team and network sell for? It's a big number," Galatioto said. "I haven't seen the books, so I'd hesitate to say, but it's a big number."
He guessed that a potential ownership group would have to be willing to put $500 million cash down on the purchase. Forbes placed the Orioles' value at $411 million last year but has also reported that the team's relative value has dropped. In 2001, Forbes considered the Orioles the 12th-most valuable team in the major leagues. Last year, they were 18th.
Whereas Angelos bought the Orioles at a time of relative uncertainty, a new owner would be investing in what Galatioto characterized as a stable franchise with upside.
"It's not going to be a hard turnaround story," he said. "You have an established market, where baseball once meant so much. You have a stadium that has been proven over time as one of the best, in an area that is attractive to visit. You have the media rights deal. The team — the brand — needs to be fixed, but when you're looking at a purchase like this, that's the easy part."
John Moag, a Baltimore investment banker who founded Legg Mason's sports investment division and now runs his own firm, told The Baltimore Sun in 2010 that the team and MASN would be worth $1 billion or more (he did not return calls seeking comment for this article).
"You've got 350 million people in the Boston-to-D.C. corridor," Galatioto said. "There's a good number of them in Maryland and D.C. and even Pennsylvania that grew up knowing the Orioles as something unique. There was 'The Oriole Way,' and it stood for something. You reignite that and couple it with the strong foundation of the stadium and the network, that's really, really valuable."
Would Angelos do it?
Angelos maintains a tight inner circle and has rarely spoken on the record to The Sun or other outlets in recent years.
Those who have done business with him, though, see an owner still intent on turning the Orioles into a winner.
"This is a man who is engaged," said Bob Leffler, whose advertising agency lost the Orioles as a client recently. "Very engaged. He is not tired at all. He is aging the way all of us wish we could age."
Those close to Angelos can't fathom him walking away from the team in the midst of such profound on-the-field struggle, his legacy therefore in question. Shortly after buying the team, Angelos told Evening Sun columnist John Steadman that he and the other investors in the team were "the trustees of the franchise."
"I feel privileged to be in this position," he said. "Rarely does any person have a chance to do what the multitudes consider a victory for them."
Leffler has known Angelos for about 10 years, he said, and has never seen the latter's fervor for the job wane.