TBS Trying to Sell Yokohama BayStars Baseball Team Again

Two Bidders For The Loss-Making Franchise Include Social Gaming Operator DeNA

TOKYO -- Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) may finally get the loss-making Yokohama BayStars baseball team off its books as two potential buyers have emerged for the club.

Earlier this week it was reported that DeNA, operator of hugely successful mobile social game platform Mobage Town, was on the verge of purchasing TBS’ 70% stake in the BayStars.

Concerned that DeNA would move the franchise out of its home in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, a consortium of local businesses has begun negotiations with TBS. The consortium consists of Mitsuuroko (a petroleum to real estate to leisure conglomerate), regional railway companies and other local firms.

The situation is almost a carbon copy of events this time last year when the JS Group proposed buying the team, renaming it, and moving the franchise, only for a local retailer to put in a rival bid. Both deals fell through in the end, leaving TBS to underwrite the perennially losing team to the tune of another 2 billion yen ($26 million) this year.

The TV network paid 14 billion ($182 billion) for the 70% stake in 2002, and is understood to be looking for 10 billion yen for most of its shares. A group company of Fuji TV, Japan’s biggest network, owns the remaining 30%.

If DeNA, were to purchase the club, it would almost certainly be looking to rename the team, a move that would need approval from the owners of all of the owners from Japan’s two six-team leagues -- as would moving the franchise. The BayStars are the only team in either league which doesn’t bear its owners name. 

Yokohama is the least successful team in Central League history, having won only two pennants since 1960. They are currently in their usual table-bottoming position. 

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