Originally created 01/14/02

Orlando Magic owner wants to sell team, which could move



ORLANDO, Fla. -- Magic owner Rich DeVos plans to sell the team and won't require the new owners to keep it in Orlando.

DeVos told the Orlando Sentinel he has not had any discussions with potential buyers but would not place any relocation restrictions in the deal.

"I can't ask him to do anything," DeVos told the Sentinel in a Saturday interview.

He thinks the team will stay, however.

"I don't see any reason why he would want to leave Orlando," DeVos said. "Where are you going and what's the rationale of that?"

Team spokesman Joel Glass said Sunday he had "nothing to add" to the Sentinel's story, saying DeVos and team president Bob Vander Weide will hold a news conference Monday.

DeVos, who made his fortune as co-founder of Amway Corp., has owned the Magic since 1991. He claims the team is losing about $10 million annually because its current arena lacks moneymaking amenities, such as midlevel suites.

DeVos, 76, said he has been planning to sell the team for about a year. He said his age and his health - he had a heart transplant four years ago - played a part in his decision, along with estate planning.

"It's time," he said. "I've had a wonderful run. I've had a ball."

The team has battled with Orlando and Orange County officials over a new arena, estimated to cost $250 million. But government leaders repeatedly have told the team that the money isn't available.

In July, the county predicted that $79.2 million would be available by 2006 for a new arena - less than two-thirds of what the Magic sought. And the county's financial projection came before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which took a large bite out of the region's tourism industry.