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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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