To use a bad pun, stop the presses. The $900 million sales transaction between the Tribune Co. and Thomas Ricketts for the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago will not make the self-imposed deadline of the next quarterly MLB owners meetings. Those meetings are set for May 20-21.
The reason? According to a report in today’s edition of the Chicago Tribune:
Sources blamed the slow pace of negotiations on several factors. The double whammy of a recession and a financial-sector meltdown has made it difficult for the Ricketts to secure financing. The family raised $400 million for the deal by selling personal stock holdings and planned to borrow the rest.
The deal is also dragging out due to the fine-toothed comb that lawyers are taking to it. That is being done to ensure that the deal is approved by a bankruptcy judge. Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December.
Due to the complications, both sides are reluctant to say when the deal will be completed.
"Seems like every time we talk in terms of deadlines we manage not to get it done in the right time frame," said a second source familiar with the sale process who asked not to be identified.
After he May 20-21 meetings, the next scheduled face-to-face owners meetings are set for August. However, the vote to approve the deal (it requires 75 percent of the owners to agree) could occur via conference call, should baseball wish to not wait until nearly the end of the season to approve the ownership transfer.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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