- Associated Press - Friday, November 19, 2010

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane is putting his franchise up for sale.

The 74-year-old McLane said he’s retained the New York investment firm Allen and Company to help him unload the team he purchased in November 1992 for about $117 million.

KRIV-TV first reported McLane’s agreement with the investment firm. Steve Greenberg, son of Hall of Fame slugger Hank Greenberg, is the firm’s managing director.

McLane met with team employees on Friday before making a formal announcement at a news conference at Minute Maid Park. His wife, Elizabeth, and two adult sons, Drayton III and Denton, sat in the front row.

“It’s time to change and move forward,” McLane said. “It’s been a wonderful experience and a great ride.”

Greenberg said McLane has not settled on an asking price, nor does he have a specific buyer in mind. But Greenberg said he’s already fielded inquiries.

“The Astros are a great sports franchise in a great city,” Greenberg said. “It’s a lot of work, it takes time, but I think we’ll have a good result.”

In August, an investment group led by former Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan purchased the Texas Rangers through an unusual bankruptcy auction for $593 million _ about $100 million more than its starting bid. Ryan’s group beat out a group of investors led by Houston businessman Jim Crane and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he had no interest in purchasing the Astros.

Greenberg said the Rangers sale will have little bearing on the price tag for McLane’s team.

“The market will really determine what it is,” Greenberg said. “Baseball is in great shape, and the Astros are a great franchise. So, we’ll let the market determine the price. We’re not going to set any price. We’ll let people come to us and tell us what they think.”

While McLane and Greenberg answered questions, work crews installed a new scoreboard at Minute Maid Park, the Astros‘ home since the 2000 season. McLane is pouring $12 million into stadium renovations, one enticement for a potential buyer.

Another big selling point is the team’s new deal with the NBA’s Houston Rockets to create a regional sports network that will begin airing Rockets games in 2012 and Astros games in the 2013 season.

Greenberg said the establishment of the regional TV network boosts the Astros‘ value immensely.

“The television deal puts it in the class with the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and a handful of others who have their own cable television outlet,” Greenberg said. “It enhances the overall asset. It creates growth and stability on the television side, that otherwise would be dependent on some third-party to deliver for you.”

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