Well we finally have our answer – The Tribune Co. has selected the Ricketts family as the winning bidder to purchase the Chicago Cubs. The $900 million winning bid includes the purchase of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25% interest in Comcast SportsNet – the local sports television network in the Midwest.
Tom Ricketts is a member of the Ricketts family which founded TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., an online brokerage house. Tom Ricketts is the CEO of InCapital LLC which is another family enterprise. Ricketts and the Cubs now need to negotiate the final terms of the deal and then obtain approval from 75% of the owners of the other 30 MLB teams. Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney believes that the deal can be consummated prior to Opening Day 2009. Once the deal is completed, Kenney has indicated that the new ownership team would be ready to move ahead with some plans that have been put on hold for the last 2 years pending the sale of the team. Those plans include renovations to Wrigley Field – the installation of new television monitors throughout Wrigley Field and the construction of the “Triangle Building” in the lot space just west of the stadium. Who knows – maybe the new owners will even consider authorizing Cubs GM Jim Hendry to re-open negotiations with the San Diego Padres to complete a trade for their starting pitcher ace Jake Peavy. The 2 teams had made significant progress during baseball’s winter meetings in early December, but the $63 million still owed to Peavy on his current contract was just too much for the Cubs to force on the new buyer of the Cubs at the time. Peavy would certainly help the Cubs in their quest of that elusive World Series title – 100 years and counting – but as usual, the almighty dollar is always the key.
One positive about the selection of the Ricketts family – they are life-long Cubs fans. Kenney indicated that Sam Zell and his team were looking for someone who would continue to implement the long-term strategy started by Kenny and Hendry 6+ years ago. That meant someone who held the Cubs and Wrigley Field as something special and sacred. The Ricketts family fit that mold the best because they indicated that they did not intend to move the team to a Chicago suburb or demolish Wrigley Field to build a new state-of-the-art facility. Ricketts himself summed it up best in a statement released to the media on Thursday night:
“My family and I are Cubs fans. We share the goal of Cubs fans everywhere to win a World Series and build the consistent championship tradition that the fans deserve.”
Thank you Tom – let’s hope your actions back up your words in the near future – Go Cubs!