The sale of the Chicago Cubs could be finalized by the end of the year as the Tribune Co. has set a date of Dec. 1 for final bids to be submitted for the storied franchise, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
Tribune pushed the date out by a week after initially setting a Thanksgiving Day deadline for bids – a date seen as too aggressive to meet given the current credit crunch.
“Bids are expected the week after Thanksgiving,” MLB COO Bob DuPuy said to The Associated Press after the first day of the MLB owners quarterly meetings. “Mr. Zell claims the team is for sale and they’re moving forward.”
Bidders have been in New York over the past two weeks meeting with officials from the commissioner’s office, MLB Advanced Media, and the MLB Network headquarters in New Jersey.
The deadline news comes at a time when baseball officials believe that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been out of the running for the Cubs for some time. Cuban was charged Monday by the SEC with insider trading involving shares of Momma.com.
While the credit crunch has increased the amount of ownership equity that Tribune is willing to retain from 5 percent to 50 percent, another looming aspect has been the amount of money in player payroll. The Cubs have been exceptionally aggressive in going after free agents, and with that, many have had backloaded contracts.
For 2009, 10 players (Zambrano, Ramirez, Soriano, Lee, Dempster, Lilly, Fukudome, Marquis, DeRosa, and Harden) will account for $116,025,000 compared to $118,345,833 for the entire 25 man roster on Opening Day last season.