Monday, February 04, 2008
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
You've heard and seen the idea that Sam Zell has floated to sell Wrigley Field to the state? Well, more than one potential buyer of the Cubs ain't interested.
"The Cubs and Wrigley Field are so intertwined. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," says a member of one bidding group who requested anonymity because of Major League Baseball's sensitivity about the sale process. "Splitting them absolutely diminishes the value of the team and my interest level."
That lease arrangement is the rub, prospective bidders say. Would-be owners fear being saddled with decades of rent payments to compensate Tribune for a ballpark they'll never own. That would crimp cash flow that otherwise could be spent on signing All-Stars in pursuit of a long-elusive World Series championship, they say.
The second paragraph denotes a huge point against leasing for the owners. As the transaction would likely be structured as an operating lease, the new owners, at the end of the lease, would have nothing to show for all their payments.
The Trib has a tremendous operating advantage with Wrigley right now -- it's paid for. Sure, they have to pay maintenance (not a small penny) for the park, but there's no mortgage. There's no monthly cash flow requirement that is an obligation to pay.
Doing a state-backed sale-leaseback transaction would obligate the new owners to a payment in perpetuity for the use of the park. That's not-so-hot if you want to eventually use that cash to pay for a leadoff hitter / second baseman.
The more you learn about this, the more you realize that there is not a single positive reason to be in favor of the sale of Wrigley to the state.
Well, unless preservation of the park is more important than a quality 25-man roster, there isn't.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]