Carl Lindner agreed Wednesday to sell controlling interest in the Cincinnati Reds to a group of area business executives, keeping baseball's first professional franchise in local hands.

The group is headed by Robert Castellini, chairman of a Cincinnati-based produce company, and relatives of a family that owned the team when it became the "Big Red Machine" in the 1970s. The sale must be approved by Major League Baseball.

Most sales take between three months and a year to get approval from baseball owners, the time frame usually depending upon the number of parties involved.

Several groups showed an interest after three limited partners put their shares -- representing 51.5 percent of the team -- up for sale in March. Lindner said then that he wanted to keep control.

He changed his mind and agreed to sell his controlling shares as well. Castellini's group will buy between 70 percent and 80 percent of the team, valued at $270 million, said one of the parties involved in the sale.

Castellini owned several produce warehouses on riverfront land that he sold in the 1990s to build a football stadium for the Bengals.

When the Reds played at Riverfront Stadium, clubhouse attendants would get cabbage leaves from Castellini's nearby produce warehouse and soak them in ammonia so players could wear them under their caps and keep cool.

The sale adds to the Reds' legacy of local ownership.

Powel Crosley Jr. bought the Reds in 1934 and put his name on the team's field. Local businessmen William and James Williams were part of the club's ownership group in the 1970s, when it won two World Series.

Two of the Williams's descendants -- Thomas and William Jr. -- will be part of the new ownership group with Castellini, who would become the team's chief operating officer. All three are part of the St. Louis Cardinals' ownership group led by William DeWitt Jr. and would have to sell their interests in that club.