Like the recent sales of other MLB clubs, the Chicago Cubs will not be under new ownership as early as originally planned. The difference this time? It’s not MLB holding up the process, but rather the Tribune Co.
MLB had originally hoped to have a new owner in place by the end of this season. Then, the date was pushed out to just before opening day 2008. Now, it appears that date has been pushed out, yet again. As reported by Crane’s Chicago Business:
Despite Tribune Co.'s official line that the Cubs will be sold in the fourth quarter, the team looks likely to stay in Tribune hands well into next year — possibly through opening day. That means a new owner will have to manage a team with a roster assembled by corporate brass long maligned, but recently cheered, for payroll decisions.
The slowdown has mystified bidders, who months ago submitted applications required by Major League Baseball, but since have heard little. "It's maddening," says an adviser to one bidding group who, like most involved with the sale, requested anonymity. Offering documents won't be ready for weeks, a source familiar with Tribune's planning says.
As further reported, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency on Tribune’s part due to the high interest in the Cubs and the associated holdings. On those holdings which include Wrigley Field, and a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, conversation still is swirling around whether they could be sold off separately, as opposed to a package deal with the Cubs. According to the Crane’s report, the splitting up of the assets may raise the bidding prices, which could then impact frontrunner, John Canning, Jr. As mentioned prior, breaking up certain assets such as the Cubs and Wrigley Field may not make much sense.
"It's a much more attractive asset if the stadium is with the team," says Jeff Phillips, managing director at Stout Risius Ross Inc. in Virginia.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus contributed to the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus and is an available freelance writer.
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