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MLB Club Sales
News and information about the sale of all or part of any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

MLB APPROVES OWNERSHIP TRANSFER OF CUBS TO RICKETTS FAMILY PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 06 October 2009 15:22

The Sale of the Cubs

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS....

Major League Baseball today unanimously approved the transfer of the Chicago Cubs to an entity controlled by Thomas S. Ricketts, it was announced today following a conference call vote of the clubs. The closing of the deal is anticipated to occur by the end of this month at which time Mr. Ricketts will assume day-to-day control of the club.

“We’re extremely pleased that the sales process is drawing to a close,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, “and we are confident that the Rickets family will be great owners and custodians of the Chicago Cubs. All of us at Major League Baseball are grateful to the Tribune Company for their years of stewardship of this proud and historic franchise.”

The $845 million sale includes the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Tribune Co. will retain a 5 percent ownership stake in the club to avoid millions in captal gains taxs.


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Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. 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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A Look Inside the Sale of the Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 28 September 2009 12:31

RangersAdam Morris of Lone Star Ball contacted me over the weekend for a Q&A on the sale of the Texas Rangers (see Q&A with Maury Brown on the Rangers ownership situation). Here’s an excerpt:

AJM: Word is that the sale of the Rangers won't happen this winter, and will likely drag into the 2010 season.  Why should a sale take so long, given that it has been known for months now that Hicks would be selling the team?

Brown: The sales process, especially in this economy, is exceptionally difficult. The credit markets have tightened, as well. The other issue has been whether Hicks is going to sell the controlling interest. He'd like to stay on, which may or may not be of interest to potential bidders. That, and the potential bidders have to do their due diligence. The first set of "books" on the club's financials went out in January from Merrill Lynch, and since then, the club has sent out a second set of books, with William Morris Endeavor, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Perella Weinberg as advisers. When you put it all together, any sale that can be completed within a year would be considered "fast" at this point in time, let alone the complex situation with the Rangers. If the deal gets completed by Spring Training, I'd say to any Rangers fan, be happy.

[...]

AJM: A couple of D/FW area columnists have painted the Rangers as now being a ward of the MLB state, basically in the same situation the Expos were in before they moved to Washington, with MLB having control over every move the Rangers make and dictating how much money can be spent.  In particular, it has been reported that at the end of the day MLB refused to allow the Rangers to offer first round pick Matt Purke more than slot money ($2.6 million), while the front office has indicated that they offered Purke $4 million.  How involved is MLB in the Rangers' situation right now, in terms of the Rangers making moves?  Is MLB going to be able to dictate whether the Rangers can sign free agents and how much they can offer?

Brown: I think these stories have overblown the situation. The offer for Purke was well over slot (according to Jim Callis' calculations, the recommended slot was $1.602 million). I think the decision was based upon that, and had little, if nothing to do with the financial situation that the Rangers are under. The reason I say that is the Rangers have spent over $3 million in the Latin American free agents.

[...]

AJM: What do you expect the ultimate sale price of the franchise to be, and do you have any thoughts as to who you think the favorites are among the prospective groups?

Brown: I'd look for a price of between $510-$550 million. The Rangers don't own an RSN, nor their ballpark. The lease they have, however, works in their favor. As for who will wind up winning the day, that seems very much in flux. If there is one thing that MLB is known recently for doing, it's working to cobble together ownership groups that reflect a local appeal, while having an executive structure that fits within MLB's ownership dynamic. I think that based upon that, the idea of Nolan Ryan being a part of the deal could be highly likely. From that perspective, I see Chuck Greenberg as a possibility. The rumor of Sandy Alderson having interest is intriguing, but only insofar as his ability to gain the needed capital to pull a competitive bid off.


OTHER NEWS FROM THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK

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Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Bankruptcy Court Approves Sale of Chicago Cubs PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 24 September 2009 11:47

Sale of the Cubs

A Delaware bankruptcy court has cleared the way for the $845 million sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Under the terms of the deal, the holdings will be transferred to the newly created Chicago National League Ball Club LLC in which Tribune will retain a 5 percent ownership equity in the Cubs and the Ricketts family would control 95 percent.

As part of the transaction, on Oct. 12, the LLC would then file for bankruptcy to protect the transaction from any liens and claims as part of the Tribune Co.’s separate Chapter 11 proceedings. The LLC is not expected to be held up in the bankruptcy for more than a few days, clearing the way for Major League Baseball’s approval. The final qwnership transfer of the club would then have to pass through MLB’s Executive and Ownership Committees before needing approval from 75 percent of the league’s 30 owners.The next face-to-face owners meetings where a vote to approve the ownership transfer would occur is scheduled for Nov. 17-19 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport Hilton.

The structure of the transaction is technically not a “sale” with Tribune continuing to own a minority stake. In what is called a “leveraged partnership”, Tribune would avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes. This past weekend, the Washington Post ran a story saying that federal authorities might look to challenge deal under the grounds that the deal is in actuality, a sale, not an transfer.

Similar tax dodges have occurred recently. In May of 2007, Liberty Media and Time Warner saw the Atlanta Braves sold for $461 million in what is called a cash-rich split-off. The Braves transaction was part of a larger deal between Time Warner and Liberty Media, that saw approx. $770 million in taxes saved between Time Warner and Liberty Media.

In that deal, Liberty Media Corporation (Nasdaq: LINTA, LCAPA) ("Liberty") and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) Liberty exchanged approximately 68.5 million shares of Time Warner common stock, for a newly created subsidiary of Time Warner which holds the Atlanta Braves, Time Inc.'s Leisure Arts, Inc. and $960 million of cash.

While the figures changed since this flowchart was initially created, select the image below to see how the transaction worked, with the Braves as a small part of the transaction.

Braves Sale
Click to see in larger view


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VIDEO: Dave Howard, Exec. VP of Business Ops for Mets Grills Book Author on Team Sale PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 31 August 2009 21:49

 

Dave Howard, the Mets' executive vice president of business operations, went on Fox Business Network on Monday night to shoot down the claims of author Erin Arvedlund, who said Friday that owner Fred Wilpon would be forced to sell the team because of losses related to the Bernie Madoff scheme. Former Mets GM Jim Duquette also appeared on the program, after criticizing the Mets on his radio show Sunday.

As the video shows, Arvedlund cites only "her opinion" in a possible sale of the Mets, while Howard says unequivocally that the Mets -- either minority or majority stake -- is not for sale.

Source: FOX Business

UPDATE FOR 2011 ON PARTIAL SALE OF METS, INCLUDES FORBES VALUATIONS: Weight of Madoff Scandal Puts Portion of New York Mets Up for Sale


OTHER NEWS FROM THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK

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Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Tribune Bankruptcy Judge to Hear Requests in Cubs Sale PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 31 August 2009 11:29

Cubs Sale

A bankruptcy judge will hear from attorneys for the Tribune Co. today in an effort to help expedite the sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Tribune will meet with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey in an effort to speed up the sale process of the Cubs to the Ricketts family. Tribune said in court filings that the club would be “irreparably harmed as a result of damage to the Cubs’ unique brand and the uncertain, and potentially severe, ramifications on a Major League Baseball franchise from an extended stay in bankruptcy.”

Tribune and Thomas Ricketts, who is representing the family effort to purchase the storied franchise announced 10-days ago that an $845 million sales agreement had been reached between the parties. After adjustments, Tribune’s creditors would receive $728 million in cash. Tribune is currently $13 billion in debt.

As part of the new ownership structure the Rickettses and Tribune have formed Chicago National League Ball Club LLC in which Tribune will retain a 5 percent ownership equity in the Cubs. Tribune is retaining the minority stake in the franchise to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes.

The hearing with Judge Carey will outline a two-step process in which Tribune will seek permission to officially sign the sales agreement, and then place the newly formed LLC into bankruptcy for a short period of time. As soon as Chicago National League Ball Club LLC were placed into bankruptcy, Tribune would seek final approval of the sale through Carey.

If the structure passes the bankruptcy court’s muster, the sales agreement would be completed between Tribune and Rickettses. From that stage, approval from Major League Baseball would need to occur. Ownership transfer of the club would then have to pass through MLB’s Executive and Ownership Committees before needing approval from 75 percent of the league’s 30 owners.

The next face-to-face owners meetings where a vote to approve the ownership transfer would occur is scheduled for Nov. 17-19 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport Hilton.


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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<script src="http://video.foxbusiness.com/embed.js?id=8947717&amp;w=400&amp;h=249" type="text/javascript"></script>
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<p>Dave Howard, the Mets' executive vice president of business operations, went on Fox Business Network on Monday night to shoot down the claims of author Erin Arvedlund, who said Friday that owner Fred Wilpon would be forced to sell the team because of losses related to the Bernie Madoff scheme. Former Mets GM Jim Duquette also appeared on the program, after criticizing the Mets on his radio show Sunday.</p>
<p>As the video shows, Arvedlund cites only "her opinion" in a possible sale of the Mets, while Howard says unequivocally that the Mets -- either minority or majority stake -- is not for sale.</p>
<p><strong><span style="font-family: tahoma,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;">Source: FOX Business</span></span></strong></p>
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<p style="font-size: x-small;"><img src="http://www.bizofbaseball.com/images/maurybrownavatar_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="Maury Brown" title="Maury Brown" hspace="4" width="32" height="32" align="left" /><span style="font-family: tahoma,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Maury Brown</strong></span> is the Founder and President of the<a href="http://www.businessofsportsnetwork.com/"> Business of Sports Network</a>, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. <span style="text-decoration: underline;">He is available for hire or freelance</span>.<a href="http://businessofsportsnetwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=6&amp;Itemid=15"> Brown's full bio is here.</a> He looks forward to your comments via email and can be <a href="http://www.businessofsportsnetwork.com/index.php?option=com_contact&amp;view=contact&amp;id=2&amp;Itemid=29">contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided)</a>.</p>
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TRIBUNE CO. REACHES SALES AGREEMENT FOR CHICAGO CUBS PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 21 August 2009 16:27

The Sale of the Cubs

UPDATE: In addition to the 5 percent equity stake in the partnership, Tribune affiliates will receive approximately $728 million in cash.


The nearly two and half year process involving the sale of the Cubs has reached a major milestone today, as announced by the Tribune Co.:

The Ricketts family has signed a definitive agreement with Tribune Company to acquire a 95 percent interest in the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Club, Wrigley Field and Tribune’s approximately 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet (CSN) in a transaction valued at $845 million. The Ricketts family will have management control of the joint venture as its 95 percent owner. Tribune will retain a five-percent ownership interest.

"Our family is thrilled to have reached an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs, one of the most storied franchises in sports," said Joe Ricketts. "The Cubs have the greatest fans in the world, and we count our family among them. We look forward to closing the transaction so that we can begin leading the Cubs to a World Series title."

The Ricketts family reached the agreement with Tribune after a thorough bid process that began more than two years ago. Tribune intends to proceed to a final transaction close without soliciting further bids from other parties.

"This joint venture will provide dedicated, local family ownership and management for the team," commented Tribune Chairman Sam Zell. "The Ricketts family will be a great steward of the franchise. They have a strong respect for the team, for the fans and for what the Cubs mean to the City of Chicago."

Final closing of the agreement is dependent upon approval by Major League Baseball owners and bankruptcy court approvals. As part of the court's approval process, the entity holding most of the assets of the Cubs franchise will voluntarily file for Chapter 11 protection so that the franchise can emerge free and clear of Tribune Company’s financial obligations. All obligations specific to the Cubs franchise - player contracts and agreements with sponsors, broadcasters, advertisers, suppliers and ticket holders - are not expected to be impacted by the court approval process, and there should be no interruption of team operations. The court is expected to rule on approval of the transaction early in the fourth quarter of 2009.

As noted, with the sales agreement in place, the next step would be approval by the bankruptcy court, followed by approval through several MLB committees, including the Ownership Committee, and Executive Committee, before coming to a full vote by MLB’s 30 owners. While approval of the sale to the Ricketts family is seen as having an exceptionally good chance of approval, the vetting process through the various committees within MLB will take several weeks. The next scheduled quarterly meetings by MLB’s owners is set for November 17-19, shortly after the end of the World Series, in Chicago.

If MLB wished to place the vote before owners before the Nov. face-to-face owners meeting, the vote could take place via conference call. Historically, ownership transfer votes have taken place in face-to-face votes.


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Sales Agreement Between Tribune and Ricketts Family for Chicago Cubs 'Imminent' PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 21 August 2009 10:49

Sale of the Cubs

While it is not the final hurdle in the process, the sale agreement between the Tribune Co. and the Ricketts family for the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago is “imminent”, according to a report in today’s Chicago Tribune. The deal is believed to be between $850 million and $900 million.

According to the report, “a definitive agreement could be signed within days. The completion of a definitive agreement would mean Tribune Co. would not be able to solicit any other bids for the team.”

The sides have been stymied in reaching a sales agreement since Thomas Ricketts, who is spearheading the family efforts in the purchase, was declared the final bidder by Tribune in late January  (see How Thomas Ricketts Became the Final Bidder for the Cubs).

Since then, issues surrounding the financing of the deal has continually vexed Ricketts and Tribune. According to today’s Chicago Tribune report, another stumbling block has been the creation of a limited liability corporation (LLC), that would have Tribune and the Ricketts family as partners. Tribune wishes to retain approx. 5 percent of the assets to avoid hundreds of millions in capital gains taxes.

Once a sale agreement is reached, the final details would then be submitted to creditors of the Tribune Co. Tribune has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. If the creditors approve, the next step would be approval through several MLB committees, including the Ownership Committee, and Executive Committee, before coming to a full vote by MLB’s 30 owners. While approval of the sale to the Ricketts family is seen as having an exceptionally good chance of approval, the vetting process through the various committees within MLB will take several weeks. The next scheduled quarterly meetings by MLB’s owners is set for November 17-19, shortly after the end of the World Series, in Chicago.


Maury BrownMaury 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 available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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2009 MLB Season Will End with Cubs Sale Still Not Completed PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 14 August 2009 13:01

Sale of the Cubs

As much as we recently said the end was near on the sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the tightening of the credit markets, and the technical aspects of possibly placing the Cubs into bankruptcy will have the Cubs under the Tribune Co.’s ownership through the end of the 2009 season.

The drawn out process for the sale of the storied franchise has had MLB cancel their scheduled August quarterly owners meetings. Without the sale approval process on the agenda, MLB saw the schedule thin, and therefore, sees no need to hold the meetings. While it is uncertain whether the process would be impacted, the possibility that Sam Zell will be pushed out as Chairman and CEO of Tribune could cloud matters.

The next meetings will be held November 17-19, shortly after the end of the World Series. The location of the meetings plays into the sale of the Cubs sale: They will be held in Chicago.

If the sale agreement passes the bankruptcy’s court muster, the next step would be approval through several MLB committees, including the Ownership Committee, and Executive Committee, before coming to a full vote by MLB’s 30 owners. While approval of the sale to the Ricketts family is seen as having an exceptionally good chance of approval, the vetting process through the various committees within MLB will take several weeks. The added time to move through those process coupled with the continued efforts to get the sale agreement completed sets November as a realistic point for the deal to be completed.


Maury BrownMaury 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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The End is Near: Sale of the Chicago Cubs PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 15:10

Sale of the Cubs

UPDATE (7/30): At least one report today confirms our report that the sale of the Cubs is close to be finalized. As we reported, a draft of the sale agreement has been sent to both the bankruptcy court and MLB. While we reported that MLB will most likely vote in the next face-to-face quarterly meetings in August, it is possible, that a teleconference vote could occur. -- Maury Brown


It’s been well over two years, but if the buzz coming into The Biz of Baseball is correct, the sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago should be completed next month when MLB’s owners converge for their quarterly meetings. The sale will go to Thomas Ricketts who is representing the Ricketts family. Sale price is thought to be between $850M-$900M.

The buzz coincides with comments made by Sam Zell, chairman of the Tribune Co. yesterday on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

The sale “will get resolved … in the very near future.” Asked if Ricketts were the winning bidder, Zell said, "Maybe. What can I tell you? … The answer is it would be safe to say that Mr. Ricketts is probably the leader player in that particular scenario"

Tribune submitted approved bids from Ricketts, as well as Marc Utay, Managing Partner of Clarion Capital Partners, LLC, a private equity firm to the bankruptcy court dealing with Tribune’s Chapter 11 proceedings, and MLB. If there are no tie-ups with the bankruptcy court (to date, the Cubs have not been part of any Chapter 11 filing, although that could change), 75 percent of MLB’s owners would have to approve the sale transaction. If Ricketts is indeed the approved bidder, the vote in his favor is expected to easily pass.

Source for “Closing Bell” transcript, SportsBusiness Daily


Maury BrownMaury 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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To Speed Up Sale, Cubs Could Become First MLB Club in 39 Years to Declare Bankruptcy PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 13 July 2009 03:19

The Sale of the Cubs

In a move to help speed up the sales process of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the Tribune Co. is considering filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the Cubs. Sam Zell, the CEO of the Tribune Co. filed a separately for bankruptcy protection in December with the Tribune owned Cubs outside of that filing. If Tribune moves forward with the separate filing it will be the first time that a club has filed for bankruptcy since the Seattle Pilots did so March of 1970. The only other MLB club to come close to bankruptcy since then was the Baltimore Orioles in 1993.

The reasoning for the filing would be done to help move the sales process through more quickly, and is seen as more of a technical legal move than a statement on the sale’s worth. Two Tribune approved offer sheets for the purchase of the club have been sent to the courts and MLB for review. One is from Thomas Ricketts of InCapital LLC chairman Thomas Ricketts, who is leading a group for his family, while another more debt laden offer has been submitted by Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC. The Ricketts offer is for less, but with more cash involved, is deemed to be less risky than Utay’s offer.

The Ricketts offer is believed to be between $850-$900 million. As reported by Bloomberg News:

A brief Cubs bankruptcy would be a legal maneuver to clear the team from any future liability in the Tribune bankruptcy, according to two of the people familiar with the matter. Sam Zell, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Tribune, pledged the company’s interest in the Cubs as collateral when he negotiated the deal to take the publisher private in 2007, according to one of those people.

“You take it in the front door, and it’s just like you’re getting radiation,” said Michael J. Cramer, a former president of the Texas Rangers who teaches sports business at New York University. “It comes out the other door about a half minute later. It’s clean.”

Representatives from Major League Baseball and the Tribune Co. would not comment on the deal.

Based upon the filing, “The entire process could take as little as 20 days, said Gregory A. Cross, the attorney who heads the bankruptcy practice at Washington- based Venable LLP and isn’t involved.”

That would bode well for Major League Baseball as their next quarterly owners meetings are set for August. If the process were to move through the courts with a motion to sell the team in the mix, it would then require a vote by 75 percent of baseball’s owners to approve the ownership transfer and complete the process.


Maury   BrownMaury 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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