Owners could vote on Astros sale to Crane

Owners could vote on Astros sale to Crane

Owners could vote on Astros sale to Crane
HOUSTON -- The Astros could soon be under new ownership.

The proposed sale of the Astros to a group of investors led by Houston businessman Jim Crane has been placed on the agenda for the Major League Baseball Owners Meetings that begin Tuesday, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Baseball owners are meeting on Wednesday and Thursday in Milwaukee and could be asked to vote on Crane's bid to buy the team from Drayton McLane, who has owned the Astros since 1992. The sale transfer must be approved by 75 percent of the league's 30 owners.

In August, MLB postponed a planned vote on the transaction during the Owner Meetings, saying it needed more time to examine the deal. MLB had asked Crane to agree to move the team to the American League beginning in 2013, and Crane has been seeking compensation for switching leagues.

McLane expressed confidence Friday that the deal will be approved.

"We have been working on this five months since we had the announcement back in May, and Jim and his group will be really good owners and very responsible and really positive with the fans," McLane said. "I'm hopeful."

Crane's group signed a sales purchase agreement in May to buy the team from McLane for $680 million, an agreement that comes with a Nov. 30 deadline. The New York Post reported last month that Crane was looking to cut $50 million from the purchase price of the team in exchange for the Astros switching leagues.

The Astros, who have played in the NL since the franchise began play in 1962, would be moved to the AL to give each league 15 teams and pave the way for a second Wild Card playoff team from each league.

McLane previously had said he was against a move to the AL West because it would result in an increase in the number of late West Coast start times. The Astros played in the NL West from 1969-1993, a division that included the Reds and Braves.

While he awaits approval, Crane has been consulted about the Astros' moves, including the July trades of outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn and the First-Year Player Draft.

Crane's group also will take ownership of the Astros' stake in a regional sports network, in which the team has partnered with the NBA's Houston Rockets and Comcast. It will begin airing Astros games in 2013 and Rockets games, beginning with the 2012 preseason.

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.