The Padres and Jeff Moorad released a statement yesterday stating that Moorad would withdraw his application for transfer of control in order for the Padres TV deal to go through. In a press release yesterday, Moorad said:
"With Opening Day less than one month away, [chairman] John Moores and I believe our top priority is to ensure that Padres fans will be able to watch broadcasts of what we believe is an exciting baseball team."
Moorad has struggled to get Major League Baseball to approve his final payment and take over controlling interest in the team. There have been numerous rumors as to why this may be, but the move yesterday seems to be independent of any outside influence. Some are arguing that Moorad’s announcement yesterday was a sign that his ownership bid may not go through. However, the fact is, Bud Selig was going to have a hard time approving the Padres TV deal with Fox with Moorad’s ownership still up in the air.
The Padres need a TV deal in place since they have severed ties with Channel 4 Padres. Obviously there was little chance MLB would have allowed the team to go without broadcasts throughout the season, but Selig may have approved a deal far less lucrative for the Padres. Moorad’s decision should allow the league to approve the deal as it has been reported. It could be worth upwards of a billion dollars over the course of the contract with Fox Sports.
According to a statement from Bud Selig, he seems to support Moorad’s decision:
"I have spoken with San Diego Padres chairman John Moores and vice chairman/CEO Jeff Moorad. They have informed me that Jeff is withdrawing his control transfer application of the Padres at this time in order to focus on completing the club’s local television contract. I am pleased that John and Jeff are working on ensuring that the club’s games will be televised this season and beyond, and I know that they are acting in the best interests of baseball, the franchise and the great fans of San Diego."
I’ve written about the issues Moorad has faced in his attempt to purchase the Padres, but this is simply a smart business move. Stepping aside temporarily to allow Fox Sports San Diego to get off the ground is important to the club’s future. Once the deal is firmly in place, there is little doubt that Moorad will jump back into the thick of things in his move to attain a controlling interest in the Padres. He has until 2014 to complete the purchase of the team even though the money for the final payment was sitting in an escrow account waiting for 22 of 29 other MLB owners to approve him. That did not happen and it has led us to this point. For now, Moorad and the Padres will simply have to focus on the television deal, then they can go from there.