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 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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