Astros owner Jim Crane files fraud suit against former owner Drayton McLane

Bob Levey

The suit accuses McLane of selling “an asset (Comcast SportsNet Houston) they knew at the time to be overpriced and broken.”

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has filed a lawsuit against former team owner Drayton McLane on grounds of fraud and civil conspiracy and has accused McLane's company of breach of contract, according to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.

When Crane bought the Astros from McLane in 2011, part of the $615 million price tag was for a 46 percent interest in the company that owns Comcast SportsNet Houston. However, when the network launched in 2012, it was only available to 40% of households in Houston and was absent from services including DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse and Suddenlink. This limited availability hurt the network's revenues and, when the Astros announced that they might reclaim their broadcast rights in September, four Comcast affiliates filed for involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Crane now alleges that McLane sold him "an asset (Comcast SportsNet Houston) they knew at the time to be overpriced and broken." He also argues that McLane "duped" him when Crane bought the interest in the network, since the sale was based on "knowing misrepresentations" and "falsely inflated subscription rates." The suit goes on to say:

"Ultimately, fans of the Houston Astros have been injured because defendants' misrepresentations leave (Crane) with an impossible choice: either accept the broken network as is and deprive thousands of fans the ability to watch Houston Astros games on their televisions, or distribute the game at market rates and take massive losses out of the Houston Astros player payroll - thereby dooming the franchise for years to come,"

The suit aims to recoup Crane's losses from any breaches of his group's purchase agreement.

Comcast and NBC's response:

"Comcast/NBCUniversal vehemently rejects any claim of wrongdoing asserted by the Astros. This litigation outside the bankruptcy proceedings is a desperate act, committed during a period in which Mr. Crane and his team of sophisticated advisors have been granted by the Bankruptcy Court an opportunity to explore and effectuate solutions to the Network's serious business problems.

"Instead, it appears that Mr. Crane is suffering from an extreme case of buyer's remorse, and aiming to blame the Network's challenges on anything but his own actions. Comcast/NBCUniversal looks forward to vindicating itself in this litigation and also remains committed to a reorganization of the Network in Bankruptcy Court."

More from SB Nation MLB:

A-Rod hearing ends | Plans to take evidence public

Tigers, Rangers swap Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder | Ripple effects

What the White Sox owe Paul Konerko

MLB trade rumors | Brewers deny Braun talks | Freese meeting Cards, Angels

Death of a Ballplayer: Wrongly convicted prospect spends 27 years in prison

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.