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Tribune Co. Finalizes Sale Of Cubs To Ricketts For About $800M
Published August 24, 2009
|Ricketts Family Will Have
Full Control Of Cubs
COVERING THE BASES: In Chicago, David Roeder noted Tribune Co. currently is negotiating with lenders over a $13B debt load, and "how the proceeds of the Cubs sale will be handled will be decided at future hearings." Tribune Co. Chair Sam Zell said, "The Ricketts family will be a great steward of the franchise. They have a strong respect for the team, for the fans and for what the Cubs mean to the city of Chicago" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/22). Meanwhile, the TRIBUNE's Sachdev cited sources as saying that WGN radio and TV will "retain long-term broadcast rights to the team under the deal." WGN Radio VP & GM Tom Langmyer said the station will "remain as the radio play-by-play home for the Chicago Cubs, and we look forward to our continued partnership with the club for many years to come." Sachdev noted the media rights "became a source of contention in negotiations," as the rights provide a "significant source of revenue" for team owners. But both sides "ended up compromising on media rights," lowering the purchase price originally set to close at about $900M (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/21).
OVER-ZELLOUS: The SUN-TIMES' Roeder reported Zell's "long process" for selling the Cubs "probably cost his debt-strapped company at least" $150M. Sources close to the sale claim that Zell could have attracted about $1B for the team "if only he'd acted quickly a year ago." However, he instead "hatched a plan" to sell Wrigley to the state of Illinois, which "delayed the sale of the team for months, at a time the economy was worsening and lenders began cutting off promises of credit." By late '08, getting $1B in the sale was "out of the question" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/23).
Crane Kenney's Future As Cubs Chair Will Be
Crucial Decision For The Ricketts Family
Sources Indicate A $200-250M Project Will
Create New Bars, Restaurants At Wrigley Field
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE: In Chicago, Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote Ricketts should "go into the community, be accessible, state a goal and back that up with the team's behavior." The team "isn't owned by a corporation anymore, and after so many months of uncertainty it's time for fans to get a feel for the personalities and the perspectives of the Ricketts family." Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz said, "Go out there and talk to people. The fans need to know the owner." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard: "Ownership can set the tone for the operation. Fans do care that the owners are, in essence, committed to the same thing that they are" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/23).
Soriano Hopes New Owner Will Lead To
Better Team, More Shots At Winning
GONE WITH THE WIND: In Chicago, Dan McGrath wrote the sale relieves Chicago Tribune Sports Editor Mike Kellams of an "obstinate problem: how to provide fair, balanced and objective coverage of a team your parent company happens to own." McGrath served as Sports Editor from '98-'02, and he wrote, "'Covering' the team objectively hasn't been difficult." McGrath: "Colleagues past and present have followed the Cubs with a highly critical eye for the entire 28-year run of common ownership. ... It's the perception that we're soft on the Cubs or that we favor them over the White Sox -- that's what has given us all frequent heartburn." Former Tribune Sports Editor Tim Franklin said, "The larger issue was dealing with the public perception that the Tribune gave the Cubs favorable treatment. I heard complaints from senior people with the other pro teams in the city. More than that, though, I heard it from readers." But McGrath noted in his 12 years as an editor with the paper, there was "not a single instance of a top editor or a suit from the Tower suggesting we go easy on the Cubs or play down the White Sox" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/23). McGrath added, "It’s been hard for us, the joint ownership thing. No matter what we did, we could not convince people that we were neutral as far as covering the two teams is concerned" ("Chicago Tribune Live," CSN Chicago, 8/21). A CHICAGO TRIBUNE editorial stated, "The fact that the Cubs and this newspaper have been corporate cousins is a constant vexation for Tribune sportswriters and editors: No matter the coverage, some readers ... will accuse the paper of rampant favoritism. ... In future years, we'll miss the cousins" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/23).