Monday, July 06, 2009


Exactly 1,351 days ago, this blog mentioned that the sale of the Cubs was a real possibility. Let's see what Crain's said back then:

Tribune Co. CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons is considering selling assets to prop up his company's shares, and that's got some wondering if the Chicago Cubs could go on the block.

Investors expect Mr. FitzSimons' search for salable assets to focus on holdings not fundamental to the company's primary businesses of publishing and broadcasting.

Selling the Cubs "makes more sense now than it has in a while," says John Miller, a vice-president at Chicago-based Ariel Capital Management LLC, Tribune's fifth-largest shareholder. "They're trying to get the stock turned around, so they tried buying back their shares, and that didn't work. Now, they move on to non-core assets, like the Cubs."

Asset: Chicago Cubs (100% Tribune-owned)

Estimated sale value: $400 million to $550 million

Why sell? With Wrigley Field expansion set to begin and attendance at all-time highs, the team would fetch a premium. Tribune could demand long-term broadcast rights in any deal.

Why not? Tribune bought the team for $20.5 million in 1981, so the tax hit could be large. "They'd also be very wary of ever being in a position to bid for the Cubs' broadcast rights, no matter how far in the future it is," says Barrington Research Associates Inc. Analyst James Goss.

The names have changed, the reasons for the sale are very different, and, despite the economy, the price is nearly double what was predicted.

My comments? Just as true then as today:

All we need is some gasbag come in here and start screaming that Wrigley is too small with too few skyboxes. Next thing you know and the Cubs are playing in Barrington at ReMax Field.

Get your hopes up, but have them tempered by reality.

Despite what Dave Kaplan is saying, we have no idea if Tom Ricketts is the next John Henry or Dan Snyder. Living across the street from the ballpark is meaningless. Not meddling in baseball affairs beyond hiring the right president and GM is what this guy has to do.

The exit of the Trib is cause for celebration. The entrance of the Ricketts is cause for hope. It is NOT cause for a coronation.


Prove to us you are worthy and you'll have our support. Trust is earned, not gifted.

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