George Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees in 1973, and his sons have owned the team since the elder Steinbrenner's death about two years ago.
Could the Steinbrenner offspring be looking to sell? Michael O'Keeffe and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News say it's so:
Multiple baseball and finance sources told the Daily News they are hearing that the team the Steinbrenner family has led to seven World Series titles could be put on the block in the wake of the record sale price of $2.175 billion the Los Angeles Dodgers went for in April.
"There has been chatter all around the banking and financial industries in the city for a couple of weeks now," one high-level baseball source told The News.
Naturally, as you might expect from reports like this, there are denials from the team:
Yankee president Randy Levine adamantly denied the rumors: "I can say to you there is absolutely, positively nothing to this. The Steinbrenners are not selling the team."
But, as noted, the Steinbrenners are quite cognizant of the recent $2-billion-plus sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a sale mandated by the bankruptcy of former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. Unlike the Dodgers, the Yankees are in great financial shape, have a luxurious three-year-old stadium, have made the playoffs in 16 of the last 17 seasons and won five World Series in that time, and own a hugely profitable TV network that carries their games. A sale of the Yankees could bring $3 billion or more, write O'Keeffe and Madden. Further:
As one of the sources put it, there’s no reason for Hal, Hank, Jessica, the GM of the family’s stable in Ocala, Fla., and Jennifer to hang on to the team other than the prestige of owning the New York Yankees.
"Hal hates the players," the source said, "and he hates the media."
It sounds more like "sell" than "keep". The rumor does raise the question: what individual or group could afford that kind of asking price? But then, one might have heard the same thing said about the recent Dodgers sale. We surely have not heard the last of this rumor.