Will Someone, Anyone, Buy the Chicago Cubs?
The negotiations with both groups have progressed far enough that they've lawyered up, so to speak. It's with the attorneys, at this point, and Ricketts remains in the lead. Major League Baseball itself is right now reviewing what documents the Ricketts-Tribune talks have produced. Expectations are for the announcement of a deal, with signatures, in ink, and MLB approval, by early August.
And that would put the Cubs back into private hands for the first time since the chewing gum people took it over in 1921.
Corporate ownership of sports teams in general has a tortured history, of course -- when it comes to both on the field success as well as the bottom line. Perhaps the most inept example of this was CBS's (CBS) brief control of the New York Yankees from 1964 to 1974. It bought the team for $11 million and unloaded it to George Steinbrenner for more than $2 million less. (After winning the title in '64, the Yankees commenced the longest championship drought in the team's history, all while under CBS ownership.)
Other corporate owners (they tend to be, as in the Tribune's case, media conglomerates) include or have included Liberty Media (LMDIA), which bought the Atlanta Braves from Time Warner (TWX) in 2005; News Corp. (NWS), which held the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1998 to 2005; Disney (DIS), which formed hockey's Anaheim Might Ducks in 1993, based on a movie, and sold it in 2005 to Broadcom (BRCM) co-founder Henry Samueli; and the St. Louis Cardinals, owned for more than 50 years by Anheuser-Busch, which of course has been subsumed to form AB InBev (ABI).As for Cubs fans, they await as the team plays on in a kind of ownership limbo. With the Cubs one game out of first (and chasing archrival St. Louis), a Cubs fan might reasonably ask: Does the team need an owner at all? One way or another, they'll get one.
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