During our years of advising in the roll-up of the Coca-Cola bottling system, we brought Bill DeWitt and Mercer Reynolds the opportunity to purchase the Coca-Cola Company of Cincinnati. That deal, along with other equally successful ventures, allowed Bill DeWitt to turn his attention to getting back in his family’s business – baseball. Bill turned to us, who he had used for financial forecasting, valuations, and assistance in arranging debt and equity financing on the many deals he and Mercer had completed. Using the same set of skills honed in consolidating the Coca-Cola and 7-Up bottling system, we helped Bill pursue the Texas Rangers. George W. Bush, a business associate of Bill and former client of Decosimo, came in as general manager to meet then MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth’s desire for Texan control. That one deal led to our involvement in the successful acquisitions of four more MLB franchises.
Bill DeWitt’s persistence to own a Major League Baseball team is legendary. DCF has been fortunate to be an integral part of his quest, and, on the way to helping Bill acquire the St. Louis Cardinals, we took part in the acquisitions and financing of the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres. Our expertise also led us to advising the buyer of the Tampa Bay Lightning, an NHL team. We have also assisted the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, and Boston Red Sox. NFL engagements have included the Minnesota Vikings, a new proposed team in Texas, and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Our work with the St. Louis Cardinals continued to include selling the parking garages surrounding Busch Stadium for $100 million, assisting the Cardinals in the financing of a new winter home in Florida, the acquisition of an AA affiliate and the move of that franchise to a new city and stadium, the acquisition of a St. Louis radio station that would broadcast the games, and the financing of the new Cardinal ball park that cost over $350 million.
In October 2005, we were given the privilege of assisting a group that desired to purchase the Cincinnati Reds. The group was headed by Robert Castellini and included Thomas and William Williams, Jr., relatives of a family that owned the team when it became the Big Red Machine in the 1970s. The group purchased the franchise for $270 million.