Pittsburgh Pirates Sold to Mayor, Steel City Businesses
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A coalition of public and private groups committed to keeping the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates in town for at least five years reached agreement Wednesday to buy the baseball team for $22 million.
Mayor Richard Caliguiri, who has headed efforts to keep the Pirates in the city they have called home since 1887, said the partnership will raise $50 million to buy the team from the John W. Galbreath family and Warner Communications Inc. and cover anticipated operating losses through the 1990 baseball season.
The public sector’s estimated $25 million share may be funded through the sale of municipally owned Three Rivers Stadium, where the Pirates and football Steelers play. The money raised from selling the stadium would be loaned to the new partnership, Pittsburgh Baseball Inc., which would own and operate the team, Caliguiri said.
The coalition also would assume $7 million in debts owed mainly to players who signed deferred contracts, including former Pirates outfielder Dave Parker.
″I’m glad to announce that the Pittsburgh Pirates will remain the Pittsburgh Pirates,″ said Douglas D. Danforth, chairman of Westinghouse Electric Corp., a corporate member of the coalition.
Pirates President Dan Galbreath said his family and Warner, which bought 48 percent of the team in 1982, ″will, basically, break even. In fact, Warner will come out of this with pretty significant losses.″
The Galbreaths, the Pirates’ principal owners since 1946, would have realized far more from the sale if the Pirates hadn’t been locked into a Three Rivers Stadium lease with 26 years to run, Galbreath said.
Galbreath put a price tag of $35 million on the Pirates when he announced they were for sale last November, but said he accepted less in order to assure that the team remains in Pittsburgh.
Galbreath, the team’s chief executive during world championship seasons in 1960, 1971 and 1979, called Wednesday ″a very sad day for me.″
Caliguiri said a potential buyer, whom he refused to identify, is interested in the 15-year-old stadium.
Corporate members of the new Pirates partnership include Westinghouse, U.S. Steel Corp., Pittsburgh National Bank, Mellon Bank, Carnegie-Mellon University and Ryan Homes Inc. Other investors include Chicago real estate developer Harvey Walken, Pittsburgh contractor Frank Schneider and Pittsburgh businessman Frank Fuhrer.
Malcolm M. ″Mac″ Prine, Ryan Homes chairman and self-described ″baseball fanatic since 1939,″ is expected to become the Pirates president and chief executive officer when the investors formally organize in several weeks.
No decision on whether to retain Manager Chuck Tanner will be made until a general manager is hired, Prine said.
The Pirates have struggled on the field and at the box office since winning their last world championship in 1979. They are completing their second consecutive last-place finish in the National League East and have lost more than 100 games this season for the first time in three decades.
The team has drawn only 1.5 million fans the last two seasons combined and will suffer two-year losses of nearly $15 million, according to team officials.
The sale must be approved by the city Council, which indicated it would be supportive, and by 75 percent of the National League club owners and 50 percent of the American League owners.