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Get Ready For The Japanese Invasion

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Before you accuse me of making that headline ethnically incorrect, I'm talking about all the Japanese news media who are bound to descend on Chicago soon... my sources say that Kosuke Fukudome is due in Chicago for his physical and to finish up contract details today. Presuming all goes well, he'll be introduced to the Chicago media -- and likely a large entourage of Japanese media as well -- tomorrow.

(Personal note: when I was in Japan in 2000, I was astounded at the number of daily sports newspapers, similar to the one to the left with a photo of Fukudome at the WBC in 2006; there must have been twenty or thirty of them.)

There's also a non-Fukudome note of interest today; Fran Spielman reports in the Sun-Times that the downtown 1% restaurant tax that has in the past been used for McCormick Place expansion, could have its northern boundary expanded to Waveland Avenue, to help fund Wrigley Field renovations, although the article goes on to say that Mayor Daley, the Sox fan, would probably be opposed to doing this unless the money raised would also go for neighborhood improvements. Crane Kenney, senior VP of Tribune Co., says that the proposal to sell the ballpark to the IFSA is by no means set in stone:

Kenney stressed that having the authority that built U.S. Cellular Field acquire and renovate Wrigley was just "one of eight transactions" the Tribune Co. was reviewing. The other seven involve "private transactions" involving groups that would purchase the stadium and lease it back to the Cubs.

"It's an idea more than anything else. It may go nowhere. We're not even in the bottom of the first inning," Kenney said.

The "other seven" transactions are likely along the lines of what I've written about here several times -- that one entity could purchase the ballpark and the team in separate transactions, set them up as different corporations or LLC's, and then lease the park back to whatever company is set up to own the Cubs. This has tax advantages for the buyer, and makes a lot of sense.