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January 7, 2022

Owners of Miss Universe pageant, UFC tried to buy WooSox for $50M

Photo | Matt Wright Polar Park in Worcester

The Worcester Red Sox received a $50-million offer to be purchased by California-based Endeavor Holdings Group, Inc. but the offer was rejected by the team’s current owners, according to a Thursday report from the Boston Globe.

WooSox Board Chairman Larry Lucchino told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette he has not spoken to Endeavor in months and does not plan to immediately sell the team, although he did tell the T&G the owners would likely sell the team eventually.

The offer is believed to exceed $50 million, twice as much as Lucchino and his partners paid to buy the then Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015.

The team's market value likely increased significantly after its move to Worcester, where the city government built a $160-million stadium in the Canal District in order to entice the team to relocate from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The stadium is the most expensive ever built for a minor league baseball team, with the team responsible for about $60 million of the construction cost.

The team's inaugural season was dampened somewhat by restrictions and consumer habits surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, but the WooSox still had the sixth highest total attendance and per-game attendance among the 120 Minor League Baseball teams.

Officials from the WooSox and Endeavor didn't not respond to WBJ requests for comment.

Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Red Sox
Larry Lucchino, chairman & principal owner of the Worcester Red Sox

Endeavor’s subsidiary Diamond Baseball Holdings, LLC has acquired 10 minor league baseball teams, the company announced in December, including minor league affiliates of the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, and Atlanta Braves.

The company also owns Ultimate Fighting Championship, the Miss Universe Organization, and Professional Bull Riders, Inc., according to its website.

While the offer was only for the team and not the ballpark, which is owned by the city, it could have implications on the city, as the team is slated to cover more than $60 million of the project’s $160-million costs in the next 30 years. The WooSox lease with the city explicitly has a clause which obligates the team to stay for 35 years even if the team changes ownership. However, the team can opt out of the lease agreement after 25 years -- regardless of ownership -- as long as it fulfills its financial obligations for the entire lease.

The lease agreement is backloaded, meaning the team paid $32,171 in 2021, but those payments will steadily increase towards the end of the contract, with 42% paid in the last 10 years, including a $9.9-million payment set to be made in the lease's 28th year. 

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