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Report: Sacramento River Cats, ballpark sold for $90M

Raley Field, Sacramento River Cats

The Sacramento River Cats (Triple-A; Pacific Coast League) and land at Sutter Health Park are being sold to group led by Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive for approximately $90 million.

We can’t confirm the price tag first reported in Sportico: In the past MiLB sale prices were basically released to all teams by Minor League Baseball as a purchase went through the appropriate permissions (including league, MiLB committees and St. Pete departments), but the new MLB regime does not share sales information with licensees. The report passed along a lump sum for the sale, but the ballpark corporation is separate from the MiLB licensee corporation (though Susan Savage and family control both), preventing the release of exactly what was paid for what component.

So it’s hard to back up the contention that the sale sets a record. It’s no secret you begin a Triple-A valuation at $40-$45 million and go up from there; two Triple-A teams have been shopped around at an $80 million valuation in the past 24 months or so, with no takers. (They were dissimilar offers: one included a ballpark as part of an overall sale of $120 million or so–with some insiders saying this actually was not an unreasonable valuation–but the other did not.) Endeavor did not break down individual team prices in its 10-team MiLB team purchase that included four Triple-A teams for what insiders say was approximately $260 million, but at least $40 million for each Triple-A team would not be surprising.) And with Silver Lake buying the 10 Endeavor teams for a reported $265 million, that initial Endeavor valuation would seem to be holding steady. (Take some of these back-of-the-envelope calculations with a grain of salt, however; tongues wag in MiLB.)

In the case of Sacramento, Sutter Health Park may be more important in the transaction than outsiders are assuming. The ballpark is located in West Sacramento, across the river from Sacramento and it looks like the team will be staying there. We have some locals whispering to us that a new downtown ballpark would be a logical addition to the Railways development that includes the Kings home, Golden 1 Center, as well as a planned USL Championship stadium. The proposal from Republic FC Owner and Chairman Kevin Nagle–a player in efforts to bring MLS to Sacramento, working with Ron Buerkle–calls for a 12,000-15,000-seat Sacramento Republic FC stadium. The new stadium will be an anchor for a nearly $1 billion investment in The Railyards, doubling the size of downtown Sacramento and bringing new housing and mixed-use developments to the area. Though there’s no timeline yet, the design allowed for construction on an accelerated timeline–and also allows for expandability to potentially house MLS soccer someday. MiLB isn’t part of that mix, according to an official in Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg.

It’s no secret that the River Cats ownership was evaluating renovation plans for several years, taking meetings with architects and looking at plans that would shrink seating capacity (currently the place sports a capacity of 14,014, with over 10,000 fixed seats) and adding more premium and branded spaces. Sutter Health Park opened in 2000 and was at the time considered the leading MiLB ballpark, but the years took their toll. With West Sacramento a hot development market, it may be Ranadive and crew are looking at a development of the site that would reconfigure the ballpark more to a 8,000-seat, 10,000-capacity level and use the land, including parking lots, for development.

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