(Adds details, background)
CHICAGO Oct 27 The Ricketts family has closed
its deal and assumed control of the Chicago Cubs baseball team,
ending a sales process that took more than two years.
The family bought 95 percent of the team from bankrupt
media company Tribune Co TRBCQ.PK for $845 million.
As part of the deal, the Ricketts also get the Cubs'
storied home park of Wrigley Field and a 20 percent stake in a
regional sports network. Tribune retains a 5 percent stake in
the team and has said it expects to end up with $740 million
from the deal.
"My family and I are thrilled that this day has finally
come and we thank Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League
Baseball owners for approving our ownership," Tom Ricketts, 44,
the chairman of the Cubs, said in a statement. "Now we will go
to work building the championship tradition that all Cubs fans
so richly deserve."
Ricketts, the son of the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding
Corp (AMTD.O), will hold a press conference on Friday.
Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times, filed for
bankruptcy last December. As part of the sales process, the
Cubs filed for bankruptcy this month in order to shed any
claims on the team related to Tribune's bankruptcy.
Tribune reached a deal to sell the Cubs to the Ricketts
family in January, but negotiations stalled as the parties
argued over the value of the Cubs' broadcast contracts. After a
deal was reached, it was held up as the Ricketts' bid received
the approval of the bankruptcy court and Major league
Ricketts and other bidders had been eager to take control
of the National League team, which despite not winning a World
Series title since 1908 has a huge fan base helped by its
"lovable losers" image and national exposure on cable TV.
Tribune, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, put the Cubs
and the other assets on the block in April 2007, when Tribune
agreed to an $8.2 billion buyout led by real estate magnate Sam
Analysts had originally expected the Cubs to draw bids
topping $1 billion, but sports franchises' values were hurt by
the recession and tighter credit markets. Tribune bought the
Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Maureen Bavdek, Dave