Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And Then There Were Three

Big News on the Cubs' sale front. The initial ten bids have been weeded down to three. That was expected. What was not expected (but was guessed as to be a good possibility by this writer) is who got knocked out:

A group led by John Canning, chairman of Chicago private-equity firm Madison Dearborn, valued the Cubs, Wrigley and the team's stake in Comcast SportsNet at far less than the $1 billion or more that the four or five groups team owner Tribune Co. deemed satisfactory to continue, a source with knowledge of the process said.

Canning declined comment.

Madison Dearborn Partners, the company that Canning chairs, has had some financial difficulty of late. It was suspected that this might hinder Canning's ability to match maximum bids on the team.

If Canning is out, especially after making a low-ball offer, this is tremendous news for the fans. Canning would own the team just like the Trib does - as a portfolio investment. That's a negative for the fans. We want an owner who will view the team as a toy on which he would spend the income he's earned from his real business in a carefree manner.

As this page has suspected all along, Sam Zell needs to squeeze every dollar out of this sale to pay down all the debt on Tribune Company books. By blowing out Canning now, Zell has sent a message, not to Canning, but to Bud Selig. The message? "I'm selling this team to the guy who offers me the most cash, not your crony, no matter how connected he is."

Three Groups are left in. Word should leak very quickly who those three are.

Ivy Chat Speculation on the identities: Mark Cuban, Tom Ricketts, Don Levin.

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