October 27, 2009 / 2:56 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ricketts takes control of Chicago Cubs baseball team

(Adds details, background)

CHICAGO, Oct 27 (Reuters) - 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 Baseball’s owners.

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 Zell.

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 Zimmerman)

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