Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So Dey Got Dat Goin' For Dem... Which is Nice!

If there's one blogger out there with a feel for the sale process, it's Corn Cob Dress, once of the sadly departed 1060West.com and now of Waxpaperbeercup.com (shouldn't there be a sound of a POP when that page loads up?).

Well, he's been all over the developments from yesterday about the Cubs, the Ricketts Family, the seemingly fluctuating sale price, and their sources of capital. Just check out the latest source:

Bill Murray's lifelong love affair with the Chicago Cubs may turn into something more.

The actor and Wilmette native has met with Tom Ricketts, who is negotiating to buy the Cubs from Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co., about investing in his favorite baseball team, multiple sources said.

As talks with Tribune Co. grind on, Ricketts, an investment banker who lives in Wilmette, has held separate discussions with a handful of celebrities to raise money from them and other wealthy Cubs fans willing to pony up as much as $25 million. In addition to Murray, he's met with Jim Belushi and John Cusack, said two sources familiar with Ricketts' proposal.

Having a deep pool of minority, non-voting investors is not new. Lamar Hunt was the largest shareholder of the Chicago Bulls at the time of his death and George Steinbrenner continues to own a piece of the Bulls. If the Ricketts do end up owning the Cubs, they don't need to own the majority share if they can find investors to take non-voting pieces. Clearly that's what they are looking for now.

But as noted yesterday, this WGN valuation issue is looming huge:

The Ricketts family was seeking certain concessions on the WGN contract such as changes in how advertising revenue is shared between the team and the station, said sources familiar with the negotiations. Without adjustments, the family may consider lowering the $900 million offer it made in January when it won the auction for the Cubs over two other bidders.

At stake is up to $50 million in the value of the franchise, or about 5.5 percent of the original bid, sources said. "It's a big issue," said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified. "We've reached a bump in the road."

"Big issue?" "Bump in the road?"

This deal still has a strong possibility of falling apart. And then you have a cash strapped team with an already bankrupt owner.

For the fans, the Trib ownership needs to end. Quickly.

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