Padres owner John Moores and a group fronted by local businessman Ron Fowler and including the O'Malley family have entered into an exclusive negotiating window as Moores works to sell the club, according to CBSSports.com sources.
Fowler will play a much more prominent role in the new ownership group than previously known, CBSSports.com has learned.
It is not known when the exclusive negotiating window between Moores and the Fowler group expires, though the two sides hope to conclude the deal by the All-Star break.
No major personnel changes are expected. General manager Josh Byrnes and his staff figure to remain in place.
Fowler, a limited partner in the Padres under exiled would-be owner Jeff Moorad, since has ascended to manage that limited partnership as Moores worked on his exit strategy. Fowler will be the point man of a new ownership group that also includes former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley's heirs. O'Malley's sons, Brian and Kevin, along with Peter and Tom Seidler -- sons of O'Malley's sister -- are in the group, as is golfer Phil Mickelson.
The final sale price is expected to be in the neighborhood of $800 million, though that includes $200 million of up-front television money from a new local contract the Padres signed with start-up channel Fox Sports San Diego that is worth $1.2 billion over 20 years. Moores figures to exit with that $200 million as part of the sale price.
Peter O'Malley, 74, is the son of the legendary Walter O'Malley, who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. It was Peter who sold the Dodgers to Fox in 1998. Fox subsequently sold the club to Frank McCourt.
O'Malley in recent years has had second thoughts that he did not leave the Dodgers to his heirs. He investigated re-acquiring them when McCourt put the club up for sale and partnered with a South Korean company, but O'Malley subsequently withdrew his bid.
Enter the Padres, the failed sale to Moorad and Moores putting them back on the market in the spring.
Fowler is a longtime area businessman and philanthropist who is chairman and CEO of Liquid Investments, Inc., which owns Mesa Distributing, one of the country's largest wholesale beer distributorships. He was chairman of the 2003 Super Bowl Task Force in San Diego, he's served as president of the San Diego International Sports Council and treasurer of the U.S. Olympic Training Center Foundation.
He's given millions to San Diego State University athletics, and currently the University of San Diego is building a new baseball stadium that will open in the spring and be named for Fowler, who donated millions to that project, too.
A native of St. Cloud, Minn., Fowler also was heavily involved with construction of Petco Park in the late 1990s.
Because both the O'Malley family and Fowler have been involved in an ownership capacity with major league baseball, unlike as was the case with Moorad, the sale is expected to be approved without any problems. The next owners' quarterly meetings are scheduled for August.