SBD/Issue 204/Franchises

Cubs May Become First MLB Team In 39 Years To File For Bankruptcy

Cubs May File For Bankruptcy
To Clear Future Liability
The Cubs may become the first MLB team in 39 years to "file for bankruptcy as Tribune Co. seeks to sell the franchise after months of negotiations," according to Bensinger & Dechter of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Tribune Co. sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, and sources said that a brief Cubs bankruptcy "would be a legal maneuver to clear the team from any future liability in the Tribune bankruptcy." A source said that Tribune Co. Chair Sam Zell "pledged the company's interest in the Cubs as collateral when he negotiated the deal to take" Tribune Co. private in '07. The Cubs "weren't a part of Tribune's bankruptcy filing." Sources said that it "remained possible the sale would close without the team filing." New York Univ.'s Tisch School of Sports Management professor Michael Cramer, who formerly served as MLB Rangers President, said that a bankruptcy filing "could guarantee that the Cubs are sold free and clear of Tribune's creditors." Cramer: "This would make sense for [MLB]. They would like to see that asset be stand-alone, very clean, not tied up in other issues." Sources said that a Cubs bankruptcy filing "would be designed to allow for the fast disposition of the team's assets," as it "could be accompanied by a motion to sell the team with an agreed-upon bidder." National Baseball HOF & Museum Librarian Jim Gates said that the last MLB bankruptcy "occurred in March 1970 when the Seattle Pilots went broke." The Pilots "were bailed out" by Bud Selig and became the Milwaukee Brewers (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/13).

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