Oracle CEO Ellison looking to buy sports team

Larry Ellison is passionate about more than America's Cup sailing. The billionaire Oracle chief executive is in the market for a U.S. basketball or football team, he said Friday.

Ellison has shopped around but found there are no teams for sale in Northern California, his home and Oracle's base. He had to disappoint an Oracle shareholder who during the company's annual shareholder meeting on Friday pleaded, "I am an Oracle shareholder and a 49er season ticket holder. Would you please buy the 49ers?"

"The Yorks aren't selling, so I can't buy it," Ellison told the shareholder during the meeting at Oracle headquarters.

The San Francisco 49ers are currently owned by Denise DeBartolo York and her husband, John York. For years, the 49ers were one of the best franchises in the U.S. National Football League (NFL), winning five Super Bowl titles from 1981 through 1994. However, the team has been performing poorly in recent years.

Ellison said he tried to buy the Golden State Warriors, a National Basketball Association (NBA) team based in Oakland, across San Francisco Bay. "I did actually look at buying the Warriors, and they are also not for sale," Ellison said.

Instead, the flamboyant billionaire is eyeing the Los Angeles area. The NFL is interested in getting a team in Los Angeles by 2008, the organization has said. The Southern California city once had two NFL teams, but it has none today since the Raiders moved upstate to Oakland and the Rams to St. Louis about a decade ago.

"Right now I think the biggest opportunity in sports, in new sports franchises, is in Los Angeles," Ellison said. The Oracle chief did not provide any further details about his team ownership ambitions during the shareholder meeting.

The San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month reported that Ellison met with NFL officials to discuss plans for Los Angeles. The newspaper also said that some NFL owners are concerned about the decline of the 49ers -- on the field and in fan interest -- under the Yorks.

Ellison is the world's 12th-richest man, with a net worth of US$18.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Ellison is known for his passion for sailing, fast cars and airplanes, as well as his constant readiness to bad-mouth Oracle's competition.

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