Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day / Closing Season

On Monday, October 24, 2005, this page informed you that, "the Chicago Cubs could go on the block."

The "could" is now gone. Read it now, hear me now: >The Chicago Cubs are up for sale.

Tribune to Sell Chicago Cubs Following 2007 Baseball Season
25% Interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago Also to be Sold

CHICAGO, April 2, 2007 -- Tribune Company (NYSE:TRB) announced today that it plans to sell the Chicago Cubs and the company’s 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago after the conclusion of the 2007 baseball season. The sale is expected to be completed in this year’s fourth quarter.

"The Cubs have been an important part of Tribune for more than 25 years and are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports," said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer. "In our last season of ownership, the team has one mission, and that is to win for our great fans."

Tribune has long-term contracts in place for Cubs programming on WGN-TV, Superstation WGN, WGN-AM Radio and Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The company was a founding partner when Comcast SportsNet Chicago was launched in 2004 and holds a 25 percent stake the network, which will broadcast 72 regular season Cubs games in 2007.

"This transition will not impact our on-field performance," said John McDonough, Cubs president and chief executive officer. "We expect to compete and win -- our goal of bringing a World Series championship to Cubs fans everywhere hasn’t changed."

Tribune purchased the Chicago Cubs and historic Wrigley Field in 1981. Attendance has soared in recent years, setting a record of 3,170,184 fans in 2004. Total attendance again surpassed 3 million in 2005 and 2006.

The sale of the team is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball.

This is a result of Sam Zell's winning bid to take the Tribune Corporation private. It certainly seems like Sam has no interest in being the face of the Cubs. If not, he'd continue to own the team through the Trib.

Take a good look at that Wish List of possible buyers for the Cubs. There's a strong possibility that one of those names will get very familiar to all of us over the next nine months. I can guaranty you one thing: All those people are very busy this morning.

What this means for the fan watching baseball is pretty plain. The Cubs will be unshackled from an ownership beholder to stockholders. That is a good thing. And for those of you concerned that this spells the death of Wrigley Field and your way of watching games, the chance of that is remote. And, if Wrigley does face the wrecking ball, it will only be to increase revenues to increase payroll to increase the chance of winnning.

This is a great day, Cub fans. Hope lives.

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