The long-awaited sale of the team was completed Wednesday as major league owners unanimously approved the $700 million US sale of the club from the Jean R. Yawkey Trust to a group headed by outgoing Florida Marlins owner John Henry.
"We are pleased that John Henry and Tom Werner have assembled such a terrific group of people to run one of our storied franchises," said baseball commissioner Allan (Bud). "We are confident they will continue the proud tradition of the Boston Red Sox and make Red Sox Nation proud."
The deal had been under constant scrutiny over the last month as potential suitors Miles Prentice and Charles Dolan continued to up the ante in an attempt to get the trust to re-open the bidding.
Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, welcomes new ownership in 2002.(AP Photo)
The price tag, which includes Fenway Park and an 80 per cent interest in New England Sports Network, is the highest ever paid for a baseball team and ends the Yawkey family's association of nearly 70 years with the club.
Henry heads a group that includes former Padres owner Tom Werner, long-time baseball executive Larry Lucchino and former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.
That contingent was chosen by the trust, but Prentice ($755 million US) and Dolan ($750 million US) submitted higher offers in the last two weeks.
The late bids by Prentice and Dolan called into question what was best for the trust and raised speculation that Henry's group -- preferred by baseball executives -- was receiving special consideration.
Approving the sale of the Red Sox was essential to MLB owners because it allows Henry to sell the Marlins to Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria.
The Expos are expected to be held in receivership by the league and likely operated, perhaps even managed, by MLB executive Frank Robinson.
Loria reportedly will pay $158 million US for the Marlins and has expressed interest in bringing current members of the Expos front office and even manager Jeff Torborg with him to Miami.
"We are very pleased to have an experienced major league owner such as Jeffrey Loria agree to revitalize the Florida franchise and continue to build on the foundation started in 1993," Selig said. "We believe that South Florida can be a wonderful major league market if we get the right facility and the right ownership.
"The prompt approval of the Loria group will accomplish half of that."
Loria's move to Florida does not bode well for Montreal, which is one of the likely targets if contraction occurs.
Owners voted for contraction on Nov. 6, but have not stated which teams would be shut down.
The Expos and Minnesota Twins are the teams most rumored to be contracted, but Minnesota has vowed to fight a legal battle and began making personnel moves this week with an eye toward the season.
Selig plans to use the meetings to update owners on contraction and the state of collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
Last week, Selig put an initial proposal on the table to the MLB Players Association.
Union chief Don Fehr is expected to address the owners on Thursday.