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

Thomas Ricketts, Final Cubs Bidder, Resigns From TD Ameritrade Board PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 23 February 2009 23:09

The Sale of the Cubs

Thomas Ricketts, the final bidder for the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in regional sports network Comcast SportsNet Chicago, has resigned from the board of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ:AMTD), the company owned by his father, Joe Ricketts. The resignation comes after the family sold 34 million shares of the company last week worth approx. $403 million. Ricketts has been engaged in exclusive negotiations with the Tribune Co. to finalize the sale process for the Cubs and its associated assets. The $403 million from the stock sale will move the family closer to the $900 million bid price that Thomas Ricketts submitted. If need be, the Ricketts family has also said that it is willing to provide more equity in order to complete the deal.

With the sale, the Ricketts family now controls approx. 17.7 percent of Ameritrade, but at the same time, lost a one of three board seats the family controls. To address the lost seat, Thomas Ricketts resigned.

It should be noted that while Thomas Ricketts was on the board at Ameritrade, he has not been part of the day-to-day operations. Instead, Thomas went on to found the Chicago-based investment bank InCapital LLC.

If the Ricketts family is able to secure all the funding needed to complete the sale, MLB’s executive committee would need to approve Ricketts, as would 75 percent of MLB’s owners to complete the ownership transfer from the Tribune Co. to Ricketts. The family hopes to have the deal completed by mid-to-late April.


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.

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Jeff Moorad Reaches Agreement to Purchase 100% of Padres PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 03 February 2009 20:07

Jeff Moorad

Jeff Moorad and his investor group has
moved into an exclusive agreement to
purchased 100% of the San Diego Padres.

The San Diego Padres announced today an agreement to sell the team to a California-based ownership group led by Jeff Moorad, who resigned last month as CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Moorad and his group will buy the franchise over a period of up to five years, ultimately acquiring 100% ownership, subject to approval by Major League Baseball. Under the terms of the agreement, the sale is expected to close and Moorad to assume the role of CEO by Opening Day.

A UCLA graduate with strong roots in Southern California, Moorad has a 25-year history in professional sports, working for many years as a player representative for top athletes in baseball and football. He purchased an ownership stake in the Diamondbacks in 2005

(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Moorad).

"Jeff Moorad will not only bring to the Padres his unique experience, passion for the game, and proven leadership, but an unparalleled commitment to the City of San Diego and its dedicated fans," said Padres Chairman John Moores. "I speak for our entire organization in saying that we look forward to working with Jeff to reach the ultimate goal of winning a World Series title for America's Finest City."

"It is an honor to enter into an agreement to purchase the San Diego Padres, a team with a rich history of great players, terrific fans, and a strong commitment to the community," said Moorad. "I consider it a privilege to have worked out an agreement that allows for the orderly transition of ownership of the franchise over the next several years."

"As a lifelong baseball fan and a native Californian, I know that with this privilege comes the responsibility to field a consistently-winning team with an absolute goal of winning a World Series championship," Moorad added. "I also know that we have a responsibility to our fans, as they are the spirit and heart of the Padres, and I look forward to providing an affordable, rewarding fan experience for all. It will be a hallmark of our ownership group to continue the same organizational commitment to the San Diego community that the Moores have spearheaded so admirably. We look forward to being on board by Opening Day."

John Moores, mired in divorce proceedings and coming off a 99-loss season, officially announced in mid-December that he had hired Goldman Sachs in an effort to sell the team to potential buyers. Moores, who has owned the club since 1994, has seen four postseason appearances (won the NL West in '96, went to the World Series in '98, and won the NL West back-to-back in '05 and '06). He also was able to get a new ballpark in PETCO Park built in 2004 amidst lawsuits and voter referendums.

The key reason for Moores' desire to sell centers on the divorce from his wife, Becky, with whom Moores has been married to for 44 years. The two own 90 percent of the Padres, but based upon community property laws in the state of California, Becky will be sharing 50 percent of the assets with John. Moores’ daughter, Jennifer, owns 5%, with the remaining 5% owned by San Diego-based businessman Glenn Doshay.

With Moorad becoming CEO of the Padres, questions remain as to whether current CEO Sandy Alderson will remain with the club.


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.

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New York Times Officially Puts Red Sox Stake Up For Sale PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 28 January 2009 11:33

Red SoxThe New York Times Company (NYT.N) announced today that it has retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial advisor to explore the possible sale of the Company`s 17.75 percent ownership interest in New England Sports Ventures, LLC (NESV). NESV owns the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and adjacent real estate, as well as approximately 80 percent of New England Sports Network (NESN), and 50 percent of Roush Fenway Racing, a leading NASCAR team. The Times Company acquired its interest in NESV in February 2002. Bankers, as well as sports business analysts predict that the minority share in NESV could be worth $200 million.

The Times Co. is the largest stakeholder in NESV behind John Henry.

The news comes on the day when the NY Times Co. reported that their fourth-quarter 2008 earnings were down due to an 18 percent drop in ad revenues and 10.8 percent decline  in total revenues from the year prior.

"The disruptions of the global economy are affecting all businesses and industries, especially companies, such as ours, that generate a significant portion of their revenues from advertising," said Janet L. Robinson, president and CEO of the New York Times Company. "In this time of unprecedented change, we are responding strategically and creatively to manage our businesses and prepare for our future, while preserving the flexibility to navigate this difficult period. You have seen that in our decisions to restructure our cost base, to preserve capital by reducing our dividend, and to improve our financial position by completing the transaction announced last week. And you see that daily in how we are responding to the present realities of our markets.”

Source: The New York Times Co.

(Tip of the Hat to Ken Fang of Fang's Bites)


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.

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Winning Bidder for Cubs Appears to Be Ricketts PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 22 January 2009 16:55
Sale of the Cubs

UPDATE #1: Unconfirmed sources tell The Biz of Baseball that the Ricketts bid is approx. $900 million.

As reported earlier today, the Tribune Co. has selected the final bidder in the sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Now the question is who is the finalist and how much is the final bid?

It appears the answer is who it is not. According Reuters, Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff has taken a backseat to Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp (AMTD: O); and Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC.

According to the report, the offers between Ricketts and Utay are structured differently with “Ricketts' bid including more cash up front, while Utay's offers a higher overall value.”

Reuters could not confirm, but one source said Ricketts was the preferred bidder, backing unconfirmed sources to The Biz of Baseball for months of the same.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting Ricketts as the selection, as well.

Tribune officials and a spokesman for the attorneys representing the creditors declined to comment, as did Utay and Ricketts. Klaff could not be reached.


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.

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Tribune Selects Finalist in Chicago Cubs Sale PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 22 January 2009 02:46
Sale of the Cubs


The final bidder for the sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago has been selected by the Tribune Co. according to the Chicago Tribune. The details of the final selection, along with details from the other three bidders has been passed along to a committee for the unsecured creditors of Tribune, with the bidders names removed and only a number associated to the bids, according to the report.

While the creditors hold no ultimate veto power in the selection process, Tribune “wants to get the committee's consent in order to keep the case friendly.”

It is uncertain if the committee will bless the deal in a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, but if so, it will most likely lock in the finalist.

While the selection of the finalist is a key step in the completion of the sale process, it is by no means done. The finalist will move into an exclusive negotiating window with which to complete the sale agreement. From that point, MLB’s ownership committee would have to approve the selection, and then 75 percent of MLB’s 30 owners would need to approve by vote to make the ownership transfer final.

The three finalists include Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff.

A key issue has been the icy environment the credit markets are in. Bidders are reportedly raising concerns that each day that passes, gaining the needed credit to complete the deal becomes more difficult.

Crane Kenney, chairman of the Cubs, has said that Tribune would like to complete the deal by opening day.


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.

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Report: Final Bidder for Cubs to Be Announced This Week PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 19 January 2009 11:33
Sale of the Cubs


 The final bidder for the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago will be selected by Sam Zell and the Tribune Co. by the middle of this week, according to a report by the Wall St. Journal.

The three finalists include Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff.

Tribune has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with the Cubs’ assets not rolled into the filing. However, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings is interested in garnering the maximum amount in the sale, as are Tribune’s numerous creditors.

Once the board at Tribune makes the final selection, they will inform the various entities involved in the bankruptcy proceedings regarding the finalist selection.

While the selection of a finalist is a step towards the beginning of the end of the sale process, the deal has several other steps before being completed. Sam Zell, who purchased the Tribune Co. with the intent of taking it private, could reject the structure of the deal. If Zell does approve, the ownership transfer would then need to be approved by MLB’s ownership committee, and then by a vote of 75 percent of all the owners in MLB.

Cubs chairman Crane Kenny has said that the sale could be completed by Opening Day.


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.

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Why the Final Bidder for the Cubs May Not Be the Final Bidder PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 12 January 2009 12:16
The Sale of the Cubs

According to published reports, the sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago is winding down, with the final bidder being selected any day now.

But, there’s a catch.

While the Cubs, and their associated holdings are not part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for the Tribune Co., the final deal will have to be approved by a judge. With three bidders in the mix (Thomas Ricketts, Marc Utay, and Hersh Klaff ), the judge will be looking to have the maximum amount garnered from the sale, meaning the two finalists that were not selected for the Cubs will have one last shot at inching the sale price up.

To add to the difficult process, as reported prior, Sam Zell, the owner of Tribune, is structuring the deal in a tax-avoidance fashion by retaining an ownership equity in the deal. To gain as much cash as possible, Zell is looking to retain a minority stake in single-digits – perhaps as low as 5 percent.

With the credit market crunch, the would-be buyers may find it exceptionally difficult going, based on Mr. Zell’s criteria.

The final step, after the purchase agreement between the bidder and Zell has been met, is for 75 percent of the 30 owners in MLB to approve the deal. While it is never easy to plot the direction of the owners in MLB, that may be the easiest part of the deal, at this stage.

So, while an announcement may be made at any time as to who the final bidder is for the sale of the Cubs, in reality, the final bidder could wind up not being the final bidder for one of baseball’s most storied franchises. A deal, once reported to be valued at over $1 billion should fetch between $850-$930 million.


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.

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Finalist for Cubs Sale Could Be Selected Any Day PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 January 2009 11:01
Sale of the Cubs

The Tribune Co. is close to selecting the finalist for the sale of the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, with a decision coming any day, according to the Chicago Tribune. Each of the three groups has been asked to "polish up" their presentations.

The selection will come from three finalists. They are:

Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff.

The three all have ties in some fashion to the Chicago area. Here is some partial background, as reported by the Chicago Tribune:

Thomas Ricketts:

Resume: Family patriarch J. Joe Ricketts became an online-stock-trading leader by founding the Ameritrade discount brokerage in Omaha. Forbes estimates the family's wealth at $2.6 billion. The bid's point person is son Tom Ricketts, who moved to Chicago in 1983 to attend college and lives in the suburbs. Two siblings, Laura Ricketts and Todd Ricketts, live in the Chicago area. The fourth, Pete Ricketts, lives in Omaha and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Cubs connection: Tom Ricketts grew up watching the team on WGN. Once lived in an apartment above a bar across the street from Wrigley Field. Met his wife in the bleachers at a Cubs game.

Marc Utey

Cubs connection: Grew up a Cubs fan in Glenview. Admires how the Boston Red Sox owners have expanded the franchise's entertainment and sports assets. His investor group includes media investor Leo Hindery, who once ran YES Network, the New York Yankees' TV channel.

Hersch Klaff

Resume: A South African who moved to Chicago in the 1970s and made his money in real estate, buying distressed retail properties. Formed Klaff Realty LP in 1982 and amassed properties in the Loop. Bought shuttered stores from Kmart, Montgomery Ward, Albertson's and Mervyns.

While a finalist will be selected, there will be at least two more steps before the ownership transfer will be finalized. Sam Zell, who owns Tribune, could reject the deal, based upon the finanicial structure of the bid offer, or the winning bidder could be rejected by MLB ownership vote. 75 percent of the owners have to approve any ownership transcfer.

A selection within the next few days would make sense given the next quarterly meeting of the owners is set for Jan. 13-15. If a decision is not made by Tribune in time for those meetings, the ownership vote could take place via conference call.


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.

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Final Bidder For Chicago Cubs Could Be Selected in 7 to 10 Days PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 07 January 2009 03:53
Sale of the Cubs

The sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago could be nearing its completion, with the winning bidder possibly being selected within 7-10 days, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune Co., and its owner, Sam Zell, are said to be nearing a decision between the three finalists, Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff.

The report of a possible decision falls in line with Cubs chairman Crane Kenny saying that he hoped that the deal would be completed by Spring Training.

The sale, once believed to be in pegged at over $1 billion is now likely to fall below that figure as the downturn in the economy and credit markets have taken a beating since Zell announced that the assets were up for sale. Predictions now are for the sale to garner between $850 and $930 million.

The sale falls against the backdrop of the Tribune Co. filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Cubs, and associated assets in Wrigley Field and the stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, were not part of the filing leading many to believe that the sale can go forward without disruption from the courts.

Even with a bidder selected, the process of finalizing the sale could be tricky given the state of the credit markets. Zell has desired a sales deal that allows him to avoid a considerable amount of taxes by retaining a small share in the Cubs, while placing the new owners in a debt-laden position.

And, once the sale has been finalized, 75 percent of the 30 MLB owners must approve the deal, setting up one more hurdle before the transfer of ownership is completed.

Since mid-September of last year, The Biz of Baseball has heard that the Ricketts family was leading the pack in the quest to own one of baseball’s most treasured clubs. While that was before the collapse of the mortgage industry, and the ensuing downward spiral on Wall St., it is still believed that Ricketts has the strongest chance of winning the day.


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.

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Jeff Moorad Resigns as CEO of D-Backs to Pursue Purchase of Padres PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 02 January 2009 21:31

Jeff MooradJeff Moorad, the CEO and general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks resigned Friday in order to pursue the purchase of the San Diego Padres. In Moorad’s place, Diamondback’s president Derrick Hall was promoted to CEO, said managing general partner Ken Kendrick to the Associated Press.

(Read The Biz of Baseball interview with Jeff Moorad)

According to The AP, Moorad will continue to retain an ownership stake in the D-Backs, until such time as MLB rules require him to sell the stake, should he and his ownership group acquire the majority ownership stake in the Padres.

"I can confirm that Jeff has resigned and is interested in the Padres," San Diego owner John Moores wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

John Moores, mired in divorce proceedings and coming off a 99-loss season, officially announced in mid-December that he had hired Goldman Sachs in an effort to sell the team to potential buyers. Moores, who has owned the club since 1994, has seen four postseason appearances (won the NL West in '96, went to the World Series in '98, and won the NL West back-to-back in '05 and '06). He also was able to get a new ballpark in PETCO Park built in 2004 amidst lawsuits and voter referendums.

The key reason for Moores' desire to sell centers on the divorce from his wife, Becky, with whom Moores has been married to for 44 years. The two own 90 percent of the Padres, but based upon community property laws in the state of California, Becky will be sharing 50 percent of the assets with John. Moores’ daughter, Jennifer, owns 5%, with the remaining 5% owned by San Diego-based businessman Glenn Doshay.

As for Moorad, he was the founder of Moorad Sports Management. He began specializing in athlete representation in 1983, with his main focus on Major League Baseball. Moorad’s reputation as a knowledgeable and respected negotiator has earned him a spot on The Sporting News’ 100 Most Powerful People in Sports on eight occasions, as he helped revolutionize player representation.

Moorad’s client base took off in 1984 when he was retained by Will Clark and four other members of the U.S. Olympic baseball team, each of whom were Top 10 draft choices. He then joined forces with Leigh Steinberg in 1985 to form one of the most dynamic twosomes in the history of sports representation, covering both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. The successful duo negotiated over $3 billion in athlete contracts throughout their 18 years together, including representing Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon and Thurman Thomas.

Moorad was the negotiator on a number of landmark contracts for a baseball client base that included Manny Ramirez, Eric Karros, Ivan Rodriguez, Mo Vaughn, Shawn Green and Raul Mondesi, just to scratch the surface of All-Star talent he represented. He also represented former D-backs’ player Matt Williams, who joined Clark in spring training with the D-backs as on-field advisors. Moorad represented more than 40 first-round selections from baseball’s annual First Year Player Draft in his practice, highlighted by breakthrough deals for  No. 1 overall selections Pat Burrell (1998) and Darin Erstad (1995), both draft records at the time.

Moorad was approved by the Commissioner’s Office as an owner and General Partner in the D-backs’ ownership group in August of 2004 and named CEO in 2007.


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.

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