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Reds' Ownership Is Up in the Air

October 25, 1998|From Associated Press

Marge Schott's agreement to sell her controlling interest in the Cincinnati Reds leaves a lot of uncertainty about the team's future.

The limited partners--who have fought her for more than a decade--appear ready to match any offer and buy her out. But it's uncertain how long that might take and who would be in charge of the new ownership group.

Baseball must approve any ownership transfer.

Carter Randolph, the representative for limited partner Louise Nippert, wasn't surprised by baseball's announcement Friday that Schott had agreed to sell all but one of her shares in the team by Dec. 31.

"With all of the speculation, this is anticlimactic," Randolph said. "This means Marge will be taking offers, I guess, and Mrs. Nippert will look at anything on the table. But that doesn't mean she'll do anything."

Last month, a group of limited partners, including Nippert, matched the $7-million offer that a Washington entrepreneur bid for one of the Reds' 15 shares.

That was an indication that the limited partners have decided to band together and buy Schott's controlling interest in the team. If she decides not to sell, the limited partners can vote her out at the end of 2000, when the partnership agreement expires.

"There's a clear indication the limiteds will be the core of the new ownership," said Hamilton County commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, who is working with the team on a new stadium.

For now, Reds players and fans can begin pondering life without Schott, who took over in 1984. She has been suspended twice this decade for inflammatory remarks and alienated players and fans along the way.

"I hope Marge is doing OK with this decision," shortstop and team captain Barry Larkin said. "There have been some awkward times. But overall, she has always been very respectful of me and my family. I know that she loves going to the park and baseball means everything to her."

John Allen, who has run the team since 1996 while Schott served her latest suspension, will remain managing executive while Schott seeks a buyer.

General Manager Jim Bowden doesn't expect any changes in the team's operations. Bowden, who had one year left on his contract, accepted a four-year extension after the season to direct the Reds' rebuilding.

"The direction of this team is unchanged," Bowden said. "I wouldn't have signed on for five years of my life if I didn't believe this would be a positive experience. I was assured of that by Mrs. Schott, Mr. Allen and the limited partners."

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