A billionaire brokerage family will attempt what a newspaper publisher and a chewing-gum dynasty failed to do: Break baseball's longest World Series drought.
The Rickettses, longtime Cubs fans whose wealth comes from family-owned Ameritrade, signed an agreement Friday to buy a 95 percent stake of the team and its Wrigley Field home from Tribune Co. The $845 million deal also includes Tribune's approximately 25 percent share of regional cable TV network Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
The deal, which requires approval by a bankruptcy court judge and Major League Baseball, may not help deliver a title to a profitable but hapless franchise that last won the big one in 1908. But the new owners can't do any worse, championship-wise, than Tribune has during a 28-year stewardship or the Wrigley family during its 60 years at the helm, The Associated Press reports.
"We look forward to closing the transaction so that we can begin leading the Cubs to a World Series title," said Joseph Ricketts. The bidding was spearheaded by Tom Ricketts, chief executive of Incapital, a Chicago investment bank, Financial Times reports.
The Ricketts family received the important go-ahead from the Tribune Company’s leading creditors on Friday, but the deal is still not done. The Cubs and Wrigley will soon make a Chapter 11 filing to purge themselves of financial obligations to Tribune, with the expectation of emerging rapidly from the process. The sale must then be approved by the bankruptcy court judge, who could reopen the auction to see if anyone would outbid the Ricketts family. The sale must also be accepted by a three-quarters vote of major league owners, who meet in November.
In apparently becoming the next owner of the Cubs, the Ricketts family defeated a bid by Marc Utay, a New York investment banker and native Chicagoan, and Leo Hindery, a media investor who once headed YES Network. Utay offered about $40 million less in cash than the Rickettses, but the overall value of his bid was said to be $100 million more because Tribune would have retained about a 20 percent stake in the Cubs’ group of assets, New York Times informs.