Tribune picks winning bidder for Cubs
Ricketts family reportedly earns right to buy team for $900 million
Tribune Co. has picked the Ricketts family as the winning bidder to purchase the Chicago Cubs, according to multiple reports.
Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Tom Ricketts, confirmed to The Associated Press that the bid is worth about $900 million and will include Wrigley Field and a 25 percent interest in a regional sports network.
The choice of Ricketts -- a member of the family that founded the online brokerage house TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., and chief executive of InCapital LLC -- was first reported on the Web site of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.
"My family and I are Cubs fans," Ricketts said in a statement on Thursday night. "We share the goal of Cubs fans everywhere to win a World Series and build the consistent championship tradition that the fans deserve."
The other two finalists in the auction for the Cubs were New York-based private equity investors Marc Utay and Leo Hindery Jr., and Chicago commercial realtor Hersch Klaff.
Negotiating will soon begin for a deal that will have to be approved by Major League Baseball. The Ricketts family said in the statement that it is "looking forward to working with the Tribune and Major league Baseball to close the transaction promptly," the AP wrote.
During the owners' meetings last week in Paradise Valley, Ariz., Cubs chairman Crane Kenney told writers that he hopes MLB approves the deal by Opening Day.
"We're anxious to get the season started and have a new owner in place," Kenney said. "That would mean being able to move forward with some things that have been idling for the last two years."
First, the prospective owner must be vetted by the franchise's ownership committee, then approval must be granted by the executive council, then by 75 percent of the 30 Major League owners, who will next meet in May.
"I think we probably can get some help from the Commissioner to [speed up] the vetting process, and then there would be a full vetting with the ownership group," Kenney said. "I think everyone wants this to come to a conclusion, including the Commissioner. If we can get a little assistance, then maybe we can get there by April."
The Cubs have also planned projects for Wrigley Field -- including the installation of TV monitors and the construction of the so-called Triangle Building on Clark Street, west of the ballpark -- but plans are on hold until new ownership is finalized.
The Cubs were put up for sale on Opening Day 2007, when Tribune Co. was purchased by real estate tycoon Sam Zell. Tribune Co. bought the team from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. in June 1981 for $20.5 million.
Forbes Magazine valued the Cubs at $642 million last year.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.