Cleveland Guardians: Dolans seeking new minority owner with path to majority ownership

Cleveland Indians team owner and chairman Paul Dolan (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians team owner and chairman Paul Dolan (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Guardians are on the hunt for a new minority owner, who could one day become the next majority owner of the franchise.

The Dolan family, which has owned the Cleveland Guardians since purchasing the team from the Jacobs family in 1999 for $323 million, is once again on the hunt for a minority owner for the team and is attempting to woo suitors with a pathway to eventual majority ownership of the team.

This shouldn’t come as shocking news, as the team’s motivation in finding a new minority owner has already been reported on, and the team already had minority owner John Sherman during its recent run of success; Sherman left the organization in 2019 to purchase the Kansas City Royals.

But according to The Athletic, things are a bit different this time around. Around 30 to 40 percent of the team equity is for sale, meaning Sherman’s stake (which has been sitting in escrow since he left) and some of Paul Dolan’s stake could be bought. And, most importantly for any suitor, there is at least some clarity on a potential path to majority ownership, which likely wouldn’t materialize for at least five years – maybe.

A timeline that long isn’t likely to get anyone too excited, but it’s better than the supposedly far-more-vague agreement that was in place between Dolan and Sherman. Sherman was also expected to one day become majority owner of the Guardians, but a chance to buy his hometown team was too good to pass up.

Finding a minority owner is going to be incredibly important for the franchise, which has recently been valued at a little over $1 billion. The team’s payroll was an American League-low $50 million in 2021 (a fact nobody wanted the team to forget), thanks in large part to the pandemic and a fan-less 2020 season, coupled with the fact that the team is retooling the roster with an eye on avoiding a full-on rebuild. The organization has stressed the payroll will once again increase this offseason and will continue to do so as the team enters a new contention window, but having a minority owner will give the Guardians far more flexibility in what they’re able to do.

Not to mention the team is going to be buoyed by what is likely to be an onslaught of merchandise sales from the new Guardians gear, which should be out any day now. Allegedly, if it wasn’t for a certain roller derby team filing a certain lawsuit, that already would have happened. But that, combined with the $435 million facelift Progressive Field is about to receive, should make the Guardians an attractive team for any potential owner.

Will it be someone with deep, seemingly bottomless pockets, who will let the payroll skyrocket someday and fulfill the free-agent fantasies of every fan out there?

Maybe, but let’s start with someone willing to just be the minority owner for a few years who can help boost that payroll just a bit.

Steve DiMatteo is the host of the California Penal League Podcast, which you can find on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else you get your podcasts.