The clock appears to be running out on Thomas Ricketts and his exclusive window on the purchase of the Chicago Cubs.
Ricketts’ exclusive negotiating window with Sam Zell and the Tribune Co. ended last week, however, the sides continue to try to hammer out a deal that would transfer ownership of not only the Cubs, but Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
As issue is the amount of control that Tribune will have over the deal, based upon prior contract agreements with media outlets WGN-TV, WGN Radio, and Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is part of the sale. Ricketts had a winning bid of $900 million, but is looking to back that figure down $40-$50 million based upon Tribune paying below market rate on for media rights to the Tribune held outlets.
That issue could eventually open the door for the exclusivity arrangement between the parties to be dissolved and prior bidders such as Marc Utay and Hersch Klaff, the two other bidders that filled final bidding figures before Ricketts was selected
If the Tribune Co. and Ricketts reach an agreement and approve the sale, the final hurdles would involve a recommendation by MLB’s Ownership Committee, and then a vote by three-quarters of MLB’s owners to approve the ownership transfer.
Final approval by face-to-face meeting would need to take place in August. However, the vote could take place via conference call. If so, and the vote moves in Ricketts’ favor, the ownership transfer could be completed by July.
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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