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Turmoil affects bid from S.F.

Published Oct. 12, 2005

Members of the San Francisco group seeking to save the Giants are in disagreement on several main issues and the internal turmoil "may unglue the potential deal," according to a published report.

The group is divided along three major issues, according to a story in Sunday's San Francisco Examiner: Who should lead them, how much should they pay and what happens if they get sued in the process.

With the group facing a midweek deadline from National League president Bill White to make a "competitive" counteroffer to the $115-million Tampa Bay bid, the news of the problems comes at a sensitive time.

The Tampa Bay group is pushing for a decision from baseball officials this week. "I certainly hope so," Vincent Naimoli, head of the Tampa Bay group, said Sunday.

Naimoli said he will spend the next few days meeting with architects to discuss construction at the Florida Suncoast Dome and will work on preparing packages to solicit bids on concession and media contracts.

According to the Examiner report, some members of the San Francisco group are unhappy with the "autocratic" leadership style of developer Walter Shorenstein.

Some investors are hinting they would like to see the 77-year-old Shorenstein step aside and be replaced by Safeway CEO Peter Magowan.

The story also says that "there are those close to the deal who feel Shorenstein doesn't really want to buy the team" and that he became a "reluctant gladiator" in San Francisco's effort.

And, the newspaper says, several members are upset with Shorenstein's apparent insistence that the San Francisco offer be kept under $100-million.

Shorenstein told the Examiner that any decision will be the group's and not his alone.

But he also said: "It's important for all of us to put energy into retaining (the team), but everything has its limits and bounds."

According to the newspaper, the best guess among San Francisco insiders is that the bid will be for $90-million to $95-million.

There is also some talk that the group would offer current owner Bob Lurie the chance toretain a small percentage of theteam.

The third point of contention is a concern by at least some of the investors over a lengthy and possibly costly legal battle with the Tampa Bay group, which could charge them with meddling in an exclusive deal.

The newspaper said that the legal protection offered by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors does not necessarily cover personal liability and that several potential investors, including The Gap CEO Donald Fisher, are backing out of the Giants bid.

According to the story, written mostly without attribution, there was some confusion among the San Francisco investors about last week's meeting with White and other owners.

At least one of the potential investors said they were not told about the meeting, which was held at Shorenstein's office.

And, according to the story, baseball officials were miffed that the local group was not represented.

Shorenstein has declined interviews with Tampa Bay media.

Against this backdrop and with the clock ticking, San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan has apparently washed his hands of the deal.

"This would be the wrong time to have a house divided because we're down to the 11th hour," Jordan told the Examiner.

"They have to sit down and decide this is going to be a competitive bid and not a situation where it's a game of one-upsmanship. They stand on the threshold of making it or breaking it."