$900 Million Sale of Cubs by Tribune Called 'Imminent'

By: E&P Staff When 2009 began, Tribune Co. reportedly hoped to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team and its landmark Wrigley Field before spring training opened. Now it looks like there might be a final deal for the club and ballpark in time for the World Series.

In a Chicago Tribune report Friday, the sale was said by unnamed sources to be "imminent."

Citing "sources close to the matter," Tribune reporter Ameet Sachdev reported that the Ricketts family, who were picked as the final bidder earlier this year, are expected to sign a definitive sales agreement "within days" -- ending any further discussion with a group led by New York investor and Chicago native Marc Utay, who revived a bid when talks with the Rickettses bogged down.

The family, whose wealth comes from founding the discount brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, have reportedly agreed to pay about $900 million for the team and ballpark, plus Tribune's 25% stake in a local sports cable channel.

Tribune will reportedly retain a small stake, perhaps 5%, in the package of assets to hold down the huge capital gains it could face. Tribune bought the team in 1981 for $20 million.

The deal will have to be approved by the court overseeing Tribune's bankruptcy reorganization, and by a three-quarters majority of Major League Baseball's team owners.


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