Dayton Dragons sold to sports group

The owners of the Dayton Dragons — one of the nation’s most popular minor league franchises — have reached an agreement to sell the team to Palisades Arcadia Baseball LLC, Dragons officials announced this morning.

Palisades Arcadia Baseball is owned by three individuals, one of whom is Michael Savit, managing partner of the HWS Group, a sports management company that currently owns three other Minor League Baseball teams in Mobile, Ala., Modesto, Calif. and Niles, Ohio. For the past 16 years, Savit’s group has also owned and operated a total of six baseball teams and a team from Springfield, Mass., in the NBA Development League. Savit is also a limited partner in the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.

All terms of the sales agreement — including the price — are confidential, Dragons officials said.

The new owners said in a news release they will keep the current Dragons’ management team in place, including team president Robert Murphy, who has been the only team president the Dragons have had since their inception in 2000.

“Bob has been the face of the organization for the past 16 years, and that will continue,” said Nick Sakellariadis, one of the three owners of Palisades Arcadia Baseball. “Obviously, the local management team has done an exemplary job with the franchise, and we are confident in their continued managerial success.”

Murphy told the Dayton Daily News, “We appreciate the fact that this new (ownership) group understands, just as the previous group did, that they don’t ‘own’ this team — that title goes to the fans of the Dayton Dragons. Their role is to be great stewards of this great community asset.”

The Dragons — the Single-A minor-league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds — have been owned by Mandalay Baseball Properties LLC since their founding. The investment firm Seaport Capital, the majority owner of Mandalay Baseball, announced in April 2013 that it was putting up for sale its sports-team holdings. At that time, called the Dayton Dragons “one of the best-performing” teams financially on the single-A level of minor league baseball. Forbes later valued the Dragons at $23 million.

Art Matin, CEO of Mandalay Baseball, said in a news release that Mandalay officials “are tremendously pleased with what has been accomplished in Dayton and at Fifth Third Field, and with our stewardship of the franchise for the Dayton community.”

The sales agreement is subject to closing conditions, including the approvals of the Midwest League, the offices of Minor League Baseball, and the review of the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

All three owners are Harvard graduates and friends, Dragons officials said.

Savit served as sports editor of the Harvard Crimson and is a 1978 graduate. Sakellariadis received both an MBA and law degree from Harvard and recently retired following a 35-year investment banking career at Citigroup-related companies. Greg Rosenbaum, also a Harvard law school graduate, is a Toledo native and president of Palisades Associates, Inc., a merchant banking and investment firm based in Bethesda, Md.

The Dragons have placed at the top among all Single-A minor league teams in attendance each season of their existence. The team also has set the all-time consecutive sellout streak, having completed their 1,017th consecutive sellout on June 15. The Dragons have sent more than 66 players to the majors.

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