Owner sues seller, media companies over misinterpretation of Houston Astros value

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Nov 23, 2013 08:22 AM EST

Jim Crane, current owner of the US professional baseball team the Houston Astros, had filed a lawsuit against the team's former owner and a couple of media firms. Crane claimed in a lawsuit he filed in state court on Thursday this week that Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr, Comcast and NBC Universal had misled him of the true value of a regional television network, which broadcasts the games of the baseball team, which reportedly lost him hundreds of millions of dollar. Aside from accusing the companies of fraud, misrepresentation and conspiracy, McLane was also sued for breach of contract.

The Comcast SportsNet Houston broadcast Astros games in the area of Houston. Upon Crane's acquisition of the baseball team back in 2011 for USD615 million, part of the acquisition deal included an ownership stake of over 40% in the regional television network. 40% of the households in Houston, however, could view games this year, and that most of the cable providers in Houston do not have offerings that carry the regional network.

Crane said at a press conference Friday, "We now face a situation where either we accept millions of dollars in loss each year, with the damage to this franchise and this city for next 20 years, or we fight back. I did not buy this team to have a low payroll and be mediocre. We bought this team to win championships and we bought part of this network so our fans can watch the games.

Comcast, which also represented NBC Universal as it is its subsidiary, said about Crane's claim, "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."

McLane claimed in his statement that the sale of the Astros, including the divestment of the interest in the regional network, was clean. "This was one of the most complex and scrutinized transactions of my business career. The accusations that have been reported are hollow and appear to be an attempt to recreate the facts," McLane said.

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