Jerry Buss, owner of the Lakers and the Kings, and Bruce McNall, minority owner of the Kings, were considering buying the San Diego Padres, primarily as a source of programming for Buss' cable network, Prime Ticket.
The Padres were provisionally sold last Thursday to George Argyros, owner of the Seattle Mariners. Saturday night, McNall talked about his and his partner's interest in the San Diego baseball team.
"Definitely, Jerry and I were both both seriously looking into buying the Padres," McNall said. "We were going to go as 50-50 partners. We were very interested, but we wanted to sit back and not interfere with the Garvey offer."
Padre first baseman Steve Garvey was known to be putting together an offer to buy the team.
While Buss and McNall waited, Argyros came up with the offer that Padre owner Joan Kroc liked. Argyros signed an offer sheet last week and the transaction was announced last Thursday. A purchase price was not announced, but Kroc was reportedly asking between $50 million and $65 million for the club.
Argyros must sell the Mariners because of a major league rule prohibiting an individual from having an interest in more than one club.
McNall said Buss is interested in adding summer programming to Prime Ticket, Buss' sports-cable network. "I think that's what he wanted to do with it," McNall said. "That would certainly help."
Garvey is reported to have put together a group worth $1 billion and said he's still interested in buying the Padres if the Argyros deal falls through.
McNall was asked if the sale of the Padres precluded him and Buss from buying a portion of the team--enough to acquire the broadcast rights.
"I guess it does preclude that," McNall said. "I think it does preclude that with reference to this team. It doesn't preclude anything (happening) in the future. I think his long-range goals are to have a football and baseball team."
However, baseball's rather complicated rules regarding television broadcast rights would prohibit Prime Ticket from showing Padre games in the Los Angeles area.
A spokesman for the baseball commissioner's office said Monday that because of baseball's contract with network television, cablecasts are restricted.
"The short answer to that is the Padres can do television in the markets they have been doing," the spokesman said. "We have paid the networks a lot of money for exclusivity. It has nothing to do with the Dodgers or the Angels. It has more to do with the rights that we sold to the networks.
"As far as other markets, if they have an affiliate station in Tucson, Jerry can broadcast there, as far as I know."