By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Jan 22, 2004 at 5:27 AM

So, just who are some potential buyers of the Brewers now that the Seligs have decided to sell?

Craig Leipold, who recently was reported to be buying the Admirals, immediately became part of the speculation. But, the son-in-law of zillionaire Sam Johnson and owner of the Nashville Predators would be looking at chump change, reported to be around $3 million, for the Admirals, while the Brewers likely will go for $180 million or more. He might not want to foot that big of a bill himself. Maybe Leipold could head a group of investors, however.

Harris J. Turer, a member of the Brewers' board of directors, has said he would like to stay involved with the team. Perhaps he could head up a group.

The Vallozzi family, who once owned the Arena football team in town, had an interest a number of years ago in buying controlling interest in the Brewers and building a downtown stadium, but their credibility was ruined when the Mustangs didn't survive.

Tim Krause, the principal owner of the soccer teams in town, once talked about building a downtown stadium for that sport and bringing in some national sports entertainment firm as an investor and operator of the downtown sports venues, including the Bradley Center.

That never got off the ground, but could Krause get involved in a group, perhaps one that included a national firm again, to buy the Brewers? His father, Charles, sat on the Brewers' board for years.

Many of the same people who were rumored to be possible owners of the Bucks last summer -- Russ Darrow, Herb Kohl, et al -- also will be mentioned again, but at this time none of them are talking to the Seligs.

"There isn't an owner just waiting to buy out there right now," said Brewers' executive Laurel Prieb. "This ownership group just thought it was time for a variety of reasons. This isn't a fire sale. There is no great urgency."

If there isn't an individual owner, or consortium ready to step in, how about corporate ownership?

Miller Brewing always has come up when a new or expanded ownership was talked about in the past, but the company's owner, a brewer in South Africa, is very unlikely to have interest in a losing American baseball team. Marcus Corporation is in the tourism and entertainment business, but does it want to enter the baseball industry beyond Steve Marcus' involvement on the board?

In fact, the overall corporate scene in Milwaukee is not large enough to probably have any one company step in and buy the team.

Tim Sheehy, president of the MMAC, said over the weekend the challenge will be to find a "lead investor who wants to take the responsibility. Who wants to be the lead sled dog?"

Of course, most people would like to see that lead investor be local, since we always are paranoid about losing baseball teams around here. But, what if a group has local lead investors with the bulk of the money coming from national concerns. Would local business interest and fans panic, as they did when Michael Jordan pursued buying the Bucks last summer?

That type of group, with local and national interests, might be the best way for the Brewers to survive, make that thrive, in this market. The Brewers need owners with very deep pockets who see Miller Park, the promising farm hands, the proximity to Chicago and the possibility of the Brewers becoming the third team in that market, the changing demographics in this town all as assets that might make Milwaukee a good baseball market again.

"It might be a very good time to own the team," Prieb said. "Miller Park is a great ballpark. The farm system is ready to produce, and the economic system in baseball is turning around and will get better year after year (for small market teams). This could be a real opportunity for a new owner."

Winter Tour

The For-Sale announcement seems to be spurring some increased interest, as the Brewers make their annual promotional tour of the state. The first event on the tour sold out at West Allis.

This writer caught the tour Tuesday night in La Crosse, where a local radio station and the popular La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods League hosted an event. More than 300 people showed up for an autograph session with manager Ned Yost, new first baseman Lyle Overbay, Rickie Weeks, Keith Ginter and Dan Kolb.

"We had a great turnout earlier today in Eau Claire," Prieb said. "With all that has happened, we've had no problems getting people out to talk baseball."

Yost said the fans have been great and are enthused about the potential on the field. "We've got a lot of good things going on right now. The Ulice (Payne) thing and the sale of the ballclub really don't affect what we are trying to accomplish," he said.

The Brewers will wrap up the tour Saturday with Brewers On Deck at Brookfield Square from noon to 5 p.m.

The Name Game

The timing raised some suspicion, but Bob Trunzo's resignation as chairman of the Miller Park District had nothing to do with the Seligs' announcement ... Marquette sophomore Michaela Courtney established a Carthage Division One Invite meet record with a 4:55.61 mile ... The Admirals' Tony Hrkac carried a seven-game scoring streak into this week's action and had tied Darren Haydar for the team scoring lead with 28 points ... Naomi Cross of Milwaukee Languages High School scored 24 points and had 25 rebounds in a 52-42 win over Northland Lutheran. Cross has three straight 20-20 games.

Beyond Milwaukee Sports

David Gerzhenzon and Andy Ferenholz combined for 24 points as UW-Oshkosh beat La Crosse, 65-47, to keep pace with Whitewater at the top of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference ... Jeff Doan, a 17-year-old junior hockey player and state champion golfer at Viroqua High School, died of an enlarged heart after collapsing between the first and second periods of a game.

Hot Tix

The Bucks host the Toronto Raptors at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Bradley Center. In hockey, the Admirals play Rochester at 7 p.m. Thursday and San Antonio at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Wave hosts Cleveland at 6 p.m. Friday at the U.S. Cellular Arena.

In college basketball, Wisconsin is at home for a 1:30 p.m. Big Ten game against Illinois on Saturday. Marquette hosts traditional rival DePaul at 11 a.m. Saturday at the BC. Both games are on ESPN.

UWM, fresh off last weekend's big win at UW-Green Bay, faces a tough game at Detroit at 1 p.m. Saturday. That game is on Fox Sports Net.

As mentioned earlier, the Brewers will hold Brewers on Deck from 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Brookfield Square.

Gregg Hoffmann writes The State Sports Buzz every Thursday for OMC.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.