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MLB Acquires Tickets.com

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that its online unit has reached an agreement to buy Tickets.com in a deal worth approximately $66 million.

The Internet division of MLB, MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), said the move was spurred by increased attendance at both the major and minor league levels of the sport and the need to make ticket purchases convenient for fans.

"With over 73 million fans attending major league baseball games and another 40 million attending minor league games, fan attendance and their enjoyment of the games will always be a principal focus of this industry," Robert A. DuPuy, president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, said in a statement.

MLBAM said the offer included the purchase of all outstanding shares of common stock of Tickets.com, at $1.10 per share.

"As we progress in our ticketing efforts, it is essential for this industry to set the standard for our fans, providing them with the best experience not just on the field, but getting there as well," DuPuy said.

On Monday, MLBAM received a $125 million line of credit from Bank of America and JPMorgan in order to secure the deal, Major League Baseball said.

Both sides expect the deal to close in March.

Ron Bension, CEO of Tickets.com, said the acquisition represented a major success for his company's shareholders, clients and employees.

"Joining Tickets.com's proven technology offerings and expertise with MLBAM positions the company for growth and category leadership," he said in a statement.

The California-based Tickets.com said its directors had appointed a special committee to review the process and approve the agreement and merger. The company said nearly 25 percent of its $70 million annual revenues come from the online sale of baseball tickets. The remainder of business comes from concerts and other sports and events.

MLBAM was created in 2000 to manage the league's official Web site and the sites of individual teams.