Cubs Contemplate Selling Minority Ownership Shares

Jonathan Daniel

Quick, check under the couch cushions, see if you have enough buried down there to buy some.

This is an interesting concept, and frankly, I'm surprised the Cubs didn't look into the idea of minority ownership shares earlier. CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney has the details:

It shouldn’t be as chaotic as Sam Zell’s Tribune Co. takeover, the descent into bankruptcy and a rocky transition to the Ricketts family. But the Cubs are exploring the idea of selling minority ownership shares as a way to help finance the stadium renovation, according to multiple sources within Chicago’s business community.

A Cubs source confirmed the plans, describing those shares as a non-controlling interest while also cautioning that the Ricketts family hasn’t made any final decisions yet. It’s an X-factor for the business/baseball plans at Clark and Addison, and an acknowledgment of the team’s complicated financial reality.

The rest of the article explains some of the reasons for doing this -- to help raise money for the Wrigley renovations, still stalled for reasons you already know all too well. Mooney also notes:

Major League Baseball would need to approve any new investors, though the Cubs source said it hasn’t advanced to that stage yet. Insiders say that as the Ricketts family does estate planning, the intention is to still control the team through at least the next generation.

Whatever happens, team sources suggest the spending restrictions imposed by Zell’s terms will remain in place through the 2019 season. At that point, the Cubs would also be free to start their own cable network, while seeing new revenues from the Wrigley Field renovation, forces that could again make them a big-market power.

A Cubs TV network -- that's been mentioned before, but I'd suggest the Cubs might look at the Dodgers' difficulty in getting SportsNet LA carried on non-Time Warner cable systems in Los Angeles. Only about 30 percent of Dodger fans can watch their team at home this year, and this Los Angeles Times article by Bill Plaschke explains the difficulty of even finding bars and restaurants to watch Dodger games (I'm not usually a Plaschke fan, but this one is good).

The Cubs might be better off selling the whole TV package, after 2019, via CSN Chicago, where they already have a 20 percent ownership interest. CSN Chicago is already carried on virtually all Chicago-area cable systems.

Anyway, the article goes on to say that many teams, mentioning the White Sox and Giants in particular, have large investor groups.

It's an interesting concept. Hey, if I ever won Powerball...

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