Ackerley May Join Group That’s Trying To Buy Marlins

FRIDAY, NOV. 21, 1997

Seattle SuperSonics owner Barry Ackerley may join the group trying to buy the Florida Marlins, and he met Thursday with team president Don Smiley, according to a source with the baseball team.

Smiley hopes to lead a group of 20 to 30 people that will buy the world champion Marlins from H. Wayne Huizenga. The deal, estimated at $150 million, could be completed in the next two weeks. It would then go to baseball’s ownership committee, which in recent years has taken 6-to-12 months to consider sale proposals.

Huizenga, who put the club up for sale in June, said he lost $34 million this season but hasn’t opened his books. The Marlins have recently been trading away high-priced players to slash their payroll from $54 million last season to about $20 million or less in 1998.

Ackerley’s family-led Ackerley Group runs AK Media, a leading billboard company in Florida. The group could increase its media holdings in television or radio in the Miami area once a deal with the Marlins is done.

In Seattle, Ackerley bought the Sonics’ flagship radio station KJR-AM after buying the team.

The Ackerley Group operates the fifth-largest outdoor advertising company in the nation, the country’s largest airport-advertising company, six television stations, and a joint partnership to operate three Seattle radio stations.

Along with owning the SuperSonics, Ackerley’s sports and entertainment business, Full House, owns the Seattle SeaDogs, a professional indoor soccer team.

Measure of effectiveness

Sonics coach George Karl said that after 10 games point guard Gary Payton ranked seventh in the league and shooting guard Hersey Hawkins was 11th in plus-minus, a statistic that tells whether a team scores more points than an opponent or vice versa when a certain player is on the floor.

Karl had more praise for Hawkins, whose statistics (10 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game) have not been overly impressive but whose intangible play has.

“He’s a player,” Karl said. “He makes plays. Defensive plays. Defensively, I think he’s moved into (that group) where he has to get votes” for all-defensive team.

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