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Owners' Vote Denies Dolan the Red Sox

Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan's bid for the Boston Red Sox was thwarted by Major League Baseball owners last week, who voted to back the bid led by Florida financier John Henry.

At their annual winter meeting last week in Phoenix, the owners approved Henry's $700 million bid for the team 29 to 0, with the New York Yankees abstaining.

The approval ends a nearly monthlong odyssey in which Dolan raised his bid twice to gain control of the team, Fenway Park and an 80 percent interest in New England Sports Network.

Red Sox officials cited doubts that Dolan would pass muster with the owners, because of his media holdings and his brother's ownership of another MLB team, the Cleveland Indians.

Henry — who currently owns the Florida Marlins, as well as a 1 percent stake in the Yankees — has agreed to sell his interests in those franchises before the Red Sox deal closes. His other partners have also agreed to shed their holdings in other MLB teams.

Dolan had participated in earlier bidding for the Red Sox, offering $700 million for the club before a team-imposed Dec. 20 deadline. That matched the Henry bid, which Red Sox management accepted because they felt it had a better chance at winning approval.

That reasoning did not sit well with Dolan and another bidding group that included New York attorney Miles Prentice and Comcast Corp.

Shortly after the Red Sox announced Henry as the winner, Dolan countered with a $740 million offer for the team and raised his price again on Jan. 14, to $790 million. That later bid was still the second highest for the team, because Prentice had bid $795 million, only to be snubbed by Red Sox management.

Massachusetts Attorney General John Reilly also entered the fray. Reilly has jurisdiction over the state's charitable organizations, such as The Yawkey Trust, the Red Sox's majority owner. Dolan claimed his last offer would give more money to the Yawkey Trust ($490 million) than would Henry's ($410 million).

Last Wednesday, the Henry group agreed to spend about $20 million to create another charitable foundation. Red Sox limited partners also agreed to kick in $10 million of the $250 million they will receive in the sale to the Yawkey Trust.

Dolan did not sound pleased.

"We are deeply disappointed by today's events," the Cablevision chairman said in a prepared statement after the owners' vote. "We agree with the previous statement of the Attorney General of Massachusetts that the bidding process for the Boston Red Sox was fatally flawed.

"All of those associated with the process clearly know that to be the case. The events of today neither rectify the process nor would yield the most revenue for the public charities and we believe that serious questions remain," Dolan's statement continued.