What will $9.5 million get you these days? Some deals are a lot better than others

Published Oct. 10, 2012

For only $9.5 million, the buyers got the Tampa Tribune, along with smaller papers Hernando Today, Highlands Today, Suncoast News, Sunbelt Newspapers and the Spanish publication Centro. Photo: Eve Edelheit, Tampa Bay Times.

Wake up and good morning. So what will $9.5 million get you these days? For starters, you could have bought the Tampa Tribune newspaper along with its TBO web site and a bunch of smaller area papers that Trib owner Media General was apparently eager to divest in order to shed its paper business (in the process announcing a huge loss this week) and start calling itself a broadcasting business.

You need only read this Tampa Bay Times story to confirm that the Tribune sale was pretty much a deep discount price. Just ask leading newspaper analyst John Morton (as noted in this story): "It's a fire sale," he said of the Tribune sales price. Not that cheap newspaper sales are anything new. When Halifax Media bought 16 newspapers this year from the New York Times (including Florida papers in Sarasota, Lakeland, Ocala, Gainesville and Winter Haven), the sales price was $143 million. So averaged over 16 newspapers, that deal was about $9 million per paper.

The trick is the Tampa Tribune is a much larger paper (144,000 daily, 262,000 Sunday circulation) than any of those 16 that Halifax bought. Yet the Trib (along with three smaller area papers plus Sunbelt Newspapers and Spanish publication Centro) went for only slightly more than the average purchase in Halifax's 16-paper deal.

Fire sale, folks. A bargain for Tribune buyer Revolution Capital Group of Los Angeles.

What else has sold or is listed for sale for about $9.5 million in recent times? Five examples:

hilaryswakhomenourmandassociates.ap_.jpg1. How about actress Hilary Swank's California home (photo, right, from Nourmand & Associates/AP)?

2. How about an office building in Fargo, North Dakota?

3. How about the option the Chicago White Sox hold on Gavin Floyd, a pitcher with a 12-11 record and a 4.29 ERA this year?

4. How about a 77-acre horse farm in North Salem, New York?

5. How about a single weekend-after-Labor-Day box office take of fright flick "The Possession" -- the top grossing movie in one of the worst weekend box offices in a decade?

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times