Dayton Dragons being sold for a record sum

The main entrance to Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The main entrance to Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Dayton Dragons announced this morning that Mandalay Baseball Properties has entered into “a definitive agreement” to sell the team to Palisades Arcadia Baseball, which is led by a trio of Harvard graduates. (You can read their bios in the Dragons press release.)

The Dragons haven’t disclosed the sale price — perhaps because the agreement still must get the customary approvals by the Midwest League, Minor League Baseball, and the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office — but Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal reported that industry sources place it around $40 million, which would be the most ever paid for a minor-league team.

The record sale price really isn’t a surprise, considering the Dragons are one of Minor League Baseball’s most successful teams. This is from a Baseball America article in April:

“From a financial standpoint, Dayton is more like a Triple-A team than a Single-A team and therefore would demand a greater selling price than other clubs in the league,” Midwest League vice president Dick Nussbaum said. “We have other clubs in the league that approach Dayton, and I am sure they are watching with a great deal of interest what might happen in Dayton.”

The prospective buyer in Dayton will be getting arguably the best franchise in minor league baseball, one that has sold out every home game at Fifth Third Field since Mandalay moved the franchise to the city in 2000 from Rockford, Ill. In the process, Dayton has set the gold standard in nearly every aspect of its operation, from customer service to ballpark promotions.

Dayton’s sellout streak is now at 1,021 consecutive games — easily the longest in professional sports history. (The second-longest streak belongs to the Boston Red Sox, who sold out 820 consecutive games at Fenway Park from 2003 to 2013.)

Robert Murphy, the only team president in Dragons history, will continue to serve in that role after the sale is completed.

In unrelated Dragons news, the CBS Sports Network announced it will broadcast Dayton’s July 10 game as a “Minor League Baseball Game of the Week.” The game begins at 7 p.m. ET. It will be the first time a Dragons game is televised nationally.

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