Sale of Cubs, Wrigley complete
The $845 million sale of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and other assets from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family was completed Tuesday, more than 2 1/2 years after the baseball franchise was put on the market. The family of billionaire Joe Ricketts, the founder of Omaha, Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade, takes a 95 percent controlling interest in the baseball franchise, its famous ballpark and 25 percent of Comcast Sportsnet, which broadcasts many Cubs games. After taxes and fees, Chicago-based Tribune, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angles Times, other newspapers and TV stations, expects to reap about $740 million from the deal. Family members Pete, Tom, Laura and Todd Ricketts will control the team as its board of directors, though Tribune retains a 5 percent stake and will have a seat on the board. The deal tops the record $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox and its related properties in 2002. Tom Ricketts, 44, who will serve as board chairman, said it was time to "go to work building the championship tradition that all Cubs fans so richly deserve." The Cubs have not been to the World Series since 1945 and have not won it since the second of back-to-back championships in 1908. A news conference was scheduled for Friday at Wrigley Field. Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million from confectionary maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. The company announced on Opening Day in 2007 that the marquee baseball franchise and historic ballpark would be sold at the end of that season. But the process was slowed by CEO Sam Zell's efforts to maximize profits, the collapse of the credit markets and Tribune's 2008 bankruptcy filing. Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection last December and the Cubs followed suit a few weeks ago, a short stay intended simply to protect its new owners from potential claims by Tribune creditors. The Ricketts family sold 34 million Ameritrade shares earlier this year to raise $403 million for the Cubs deal, but still controls about 16 percent of the company's stock and two board seats. Tom Ricketts was a market maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange and finance executive before starting investment bank Incapital LLC in 1999. A Chicago investment banker, he is a Cubs die-hard who grew up watching the team, once lived in an apartment across the street from Wrigley and first met his wife in the stands at a game there.