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Report: Deal to sell Dayton Dragons reached

A preliminary agreement has been reached to sell the Dayton Dragons, according to a story published this week by Baseball America.

The sale could fetch the owners of the minor league team between $30 million to $40 million, the highest amount recorded for a minor league team sale, according to sources in the Baseball America story.

“We do not comment on discussions or negotiations,” Dragons Team President Bob Murphy said Friday.

It’s been more than a year since the majority investor in the Dayton Dragons’ owner announced they were selling their stake in Mandalay Baseball, the owners of the minor league team.

Bill Luby, a partner with Seaport Capital, the New York-based private equity firm that owns the majority piece in Mandalay, said he could not comment on the Baseball America story.

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“The sales process has taken a bit longer than anticipated,” Luby told the Dayton Daily News in March. “There continue to be a number of parties interested in acquiring the Dayton Dragons. A few groups have been to Dayton and toured Fifth Third Field over the past couple of months.”

Luby repeated his belief that any transfer in ownership would be “invisible” to Dragons fans. “I remain convinced of this,” he said.

In addition to the Dayton Dragons, Mandalay Baseball Properties owns all or part of four other minor-league baseball teams: the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Erie SeaWolves and the Frisco RoughRiders.

Other investors in Mandalay Baseball Properties and the Dragons include NBA Hall of Fame player Earvin “Magic” Johnson and former Ohio State Buckeyes two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. Luby has said that Seaport is the only member of the ownership team that has decided to sell.

Any new owners would have to be approved by Major League Baseball.

BallparkDigest.com last April called the Dayton Dragons “one of the best-performing” teams financially on the single-A level of minor league baseball. Forbes has valued the Dragons alone at $23 million.

Seaport Capital made the investment in Mandalay Baseball Properties in 2002, and that majority stake is now the last remaining investment in Seaport Capital’s 2000 fund.

The uncertainty over a looming sale doesn’t appear to have slowed the Dragons’ momentum. Team officials launched a $500,000 project to renovate all 30 luxury suites at Fifth Third Field and the Dragons are on pace to have their 1,000th sell out this year.

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