SBJ: Snag in Cubs sale
The Sports Business Journal has multiple sources saying the exclusive negotiating period between the Tribune Co. and Cubs bidder Tom Ricketts expired last month. The Tribune entered exclusive negotiations with Ricketts in January, when the company selected him over two other bidders to buy the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in regional cable network Comcast SportsNet.
There was no comment from representatives for Ricketts or the Tribune.
According to the SBJ article, the problem appears to be the level of involvement Tribune’s WGN would have in the Cubs post-sale. WGN has been paying below market rates for broadcast rights to the games, and Ricketts wants that to change, sources said. The Tribune side has said that the terms bidders agreed to in November outlined WGN’s role, the sources said.
What is not at issue is Ricketts’ financing for the deal, the sources said. Another SBJ source expressed optimism a deal would be done soon, saying it would be hard for Tribune to go back out to the market looking for another buyer. Ricketts has his debt and equity lined up for the $900 million offer, though he is seeking up to a $50 million price reduction because of the WGN issue.
– Carrie Muskat