A publicly traded company that would allow fans to buy shares of the Cubs, and a former bidder for the Cincinnati Reds has been added to the list of five other bidders looking to purchase the storied franchise from the Tribune Co.
Both Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. and a group that includes Broadway theater owner Rocco Landesman have been given the financial books on the Cubs and Wrigley Field.
In the case of Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., they currently have no operations. Instead, the company has raised $216 million through an IPO in January. As reported by the Chicago Tribune:
If Sports Properties bought the team, Cub fans would be able to buy shares in the company, just like any other publicly traded firm. Vice Chairman Andrew Murstein, who is president of a New York-based investment fund, declined to comment on the company's interest in the Cubs, but he discussed its business plan in generic terms.
"We believe owning sports teams is one of the great investments you can make," he said. "Many people think that owning a sports team is a rich man's game. We want to give institutions, individuals and fans the opportunity to own a part of it."
Murstein was the one that led the effort to assemble the firm – a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. As reported by Tribune, “Such entities are shell companies that raise public money for a future merger or acquisition.”
The odds that MLB would approve a publicly traded company would be exceptionally long. MLB has preferred to deal with smaller ownership groups. The last publicly traded team was the Cleveland Indians in 1998 by then owner Richard Jacobs. By 2000, Jacobs sold the club, which then went back to being private.
The other bidding group headed by Rocco Landesman, along with Dan Staton, were part of a group that made a bid to purchase the Cincinnati Reds two years ago. The two new groups are added to front runner John Canning, Jr., CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the Ricketts family, and a partnership between attorney Thomas Mandler and businessman Jim Anixter.