Today in Royals history: Kauffman sells team

Jamie Squire

May 17, 1983. Ewing Kauffman makes a deal with Avron Fogelman.

Ewing Kauffman had been in poor health. He worried about what would happen to the Kansas City Royals once he was gone.

It sounds like a script from the early nineties, but this scenario actually played out almost a decade earlier.

After having a benign tumor removed from his rib cage in 1981, Kauffman began to look for someone to take over his club that would be committed to keeping them in Kansas City. He had several opportunities to sell over the next couple of seasons, but deemed the offers insufficient or the buyers unsavory.

Enter Avron Fogelman.

A Memphis real estate mogul, Fogelman built his fortune on apartments. He had a cookie cutter approach to his method and folded the entire process - from land acquisition to development to management - into a single corporation. His wealth made him a player in Memphis. In the early ‘80s, he was the owner of the Memphis Chicks. It was the Double-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos. Fogelman also owned an ABA franchise.

In 1983, the Royals were worth $22 million. The deal Kauffman and Fogelman structured was for Fogelman to purchase 49 percent of the team for a total of $10 million. He also paid $1 million in option money to go toward the remaining $12 million for the leftover 51 percent.

The option could be exercised by Kauffman anytime after 1988 and it could be exercised by Fogelman any time after 1991. Kauffman handed over 1 percent of the team at a later date, giving both men a 50-50 stake in the Royals.

The options and initial 49 percent stake were strange parameters in a deal for a sports franchise. But Fogelman would show he was no stranger to working strange (and damaging) deals.

Seven years later, Fogelman's fortune was dwindling and he was under serious financial pressure from creditors. Kauffman bought Fogelman's share of the team at auction and regained full control of the club in 1990.

It's strange to think, but if Kauffman had found a more suitable partner thirty years ago, David Glass wouldn't be in the picture today.

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