Check out this cool ownership timeline courtesy of the Chicago Cubs. 1905 – $105,000? Unbelievable. Now the Ricketts Family just paid $845 for the franchise, well more than the $660 million sale price for the Boston Red Sox franchise back in 2002… Enjoy!
1876: The Chicago White Stockings, owned by William A. Hulbert, become one of eight charter members of the National League. Hulbert is one of the founding fathers of the National League and its first president. The team would not be known as the Cubs until 1902.
April 1882: Former player, sporting goods tycoon and team president Albert Spalding takes over as owner of the Chicago team after Hulbert dies.
1902: James Hart was the club president since 1892, but takes over as majority owner in 1902 when Spalding steps down.
July 1905: Cincinnati Times-Star owner Charles Taft finances Charles Murphy’s purchase of the Cubs with a loan of $105,000. Murphy becomes team president.
February 1914: Taft buys the Cubs from Murphy. Murphy had invested $15,000 in the Cubs in 1905, and sells his share of stock for $503,500.
December 1915: Charles Weeghman, a team owner in the defunct Federal League, and nine others purchase a controlling interest in the Cubs from Taft for $500,000, and moves them to Weeghman Park (future site of Wrigley Field) at the corner of Clark and Addison. William Wrigley Jr. becomes a minority stockholder, purchasing a share for $50,000.
1919: Wrigley purchases enough shares to have complete control of the Cubs. He re-names Weeghman Park to Cubs Park. In 1926, Cubs Park becomes Wrigley Field. In 1932, Phillip K. Wrigley assumes control after his father’s death. In 1977, William Wrigley takes over the club after the death of his father.
June 16, 1981: The Wrigley Family ends its 65-year relationship with the team, selling the Cubs to Tribune Co. for $20.5 million.
December 2007: Real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell completes purchase of the Cubs’ parent organization, the Tribune Co.
April 2, 2007: Tribune Co. announces it has accepted a buyout offer from Zell in a deal valued at $8.2 billion, and plans to sell the Cubs. “I told the ballclub it’ll be business as usual,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said when the announcement was made prior to the season opener in Cincinnati. “It will not be a distraction.”
“It doesn’t make a difference to me,” Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said of the news. “With the Tribune, I didn’t really know who the owner was. He wasn’t around. … As long as they’re committed to winning, that’s all we are concerned about.”
March 7, 2008: In a “state of the team” chat with beat writers in Mesa, Ariz., Cubs chairman Crane Kenney said the team was close to getting the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to buy Wrigley Field and operate it. Kenney also said the team had been approached by at least three companies interested in purchasing naming rights. “We’re not going to leave resources that would go into the payroll and go into our restoration plans on the table to appease people who say, ‘I don’t think you should do it,’” Kenney said.
May 13, 2008: Zell rejects the ISFA plan to acquire Wrigley Field and says he will package the ballpark and Cubs together.
June 13, 2008: Nine potential buyers who were preapproved by MLB receive financial books on the Cubs. Interested buyers are believed to include a group headed by John Canning, chairman of private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC; Internet billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; and the family of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. founder Joe Ricketts.
July 19, 2008: Tribune Co. receives at least seven bids to buy the Cubs. On Aug. 26, Zell says the company has narrowed the list to five. “We hope to have a deal to MLB by the end of the year,” Zell said.
Dec. 1, 2008: At least three groups submit offers to the Tribune Co. in the latest round of bidding. The three finalists include the Ricketts family; a partnership of private equity investors Marc Utay and Leo Hindery Jr.; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff.
Dec. 8, 2008: Tribune Co. files for bankruptcy protection to deal with $13 billion in debt. The Cubs are not included in the filing.
Jan. 14, 2009: At the owners meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., Kenney says he hopes to have the sale completed by Opening Day 2009. “We’re anxious to get the season started and have a new owner in place,” Kenney said.
Jan. 22, 2009: The Tribune Co. selects the Ricketts family as the winning bidder to purchase the Cubs, with the price reported to be $900 million. That includes the team, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent share in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “My family and I are Cubs fans,” Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “We share the goal of Cubs fans everywhere to win a World Series and build the consistent championship tradition that the fans deserve.”
Feb. 23, 2009: Tom Ricketts resigns from TD Ameritrade’s board after his family sells $403 million of its stock in the online brokerage to help finance its bid to buy the Cubs.
March 7, 2009: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig says he is not certain the sale can be completed by Opening Day 2009. “It’s moving forward,” Selig said.
June 18, 2009: The Tribune Co. reopens talks with another bidding group led by New York investor Marc Utay because of the slow pace of negotiations with the Ricketts family. Talks stalled when the two sides could not agree on some issues, including how to value the team’s broadcast rights.
July 6, 2009: Reports surface that the Tribune Co. has reportedly reached a deal with the Ricketts family. The news is premature, but Cubs players have some suggestions for the new owner. “What about an indoor swimming pool in here?” shortstop Ryan Theriot said.
Aug. 21, 2009: Tribune Co. signs a definitive agreement to sell 95 percent of the team, plus Wrigley Field and a share of Comcast SportsNet Chicago to the Ricketts family for $845 million. Tribune Co. will retain a 5 percent ownership interest.
Aug. 31, 2009: The judge presiding over Tribune Co.’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case approves an expedited process for court action surrounding the company’s sale of the team.
Sept. 24, 2009: A federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware approves the Tribune Co.’s sale of the Cubs, securing the first of a two-step approval process in bankruptcy court.
Oct. 6, 2009: Major League Baseball announces it unanimously approved the transfer of the Cubs to the Ricketts family following a conference call vote by the teams. “We’re extremely pleased that the sales process is drawing to a close,” Selig said, “and we are confident that the Ricketts family will be great owners and custodians of the Chicago Cubs. All of us at Major League Baseball are grateful to the Tribune Co. for their years of stewardship of this proud and historic franchise.”
Oct. 12, 2009: Cubs file for bankruptcy to ensure that the team won’t be hit by claims from Tribune creditors.
Oct. 13, 2009: A U.S. bankruptcy judge rules Tribune Co. can proceed with the sale of the team. The Cubs’ bankruptcy filing was not the first for a Major League team. The Baltimore Orioles were sold in a bankruptcy auction in 1993 after owner Eli Jacobs filed for Chapter 11. The same happened to the Seattle Pilots after the 1969 season. The new owners moved the team to Milwaukee, and changed the name to the Brewers.
Oct. 27, 2009: The Ricketts family announces the sale is official, and they have taken a 95 percent controlling interest in the Cubs, Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast SportsNet after a financial closing