Who is potential Cubs owner Tom Ricketts?

December 1, 2009 10:24:09 AM PST
Tribune company creditors are reviewing the bid Tom Ricketts and his extended family have made to buy the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.The $900-million deal is far from done, but ABC7 has learned more about who Tom Ricketts is.

It's better than an even money bet that Tom Ricketts will be the face of the franchise as current owners of the Tribune Company get set to sell to the family that brought consumers TD Ameritrade.

The Ricketts family hails from Omaha, Nebraska. Tom lives in the Chicago area, but since the Ricketts struck it rich, they've wanted to own the Cubs. Why? Because that's what any fan of the lovable losers likely would do, if they could.

Ricketts, 43, made his own fortune by coming to Chicago to attend college and starting In-capital, a firm that sells bonds to average investors that previously were available to only big, institutional investors.

Ricketts is described as a cautious guy. On Fox Business News last fall, as the markets were crumbling, he was seen talking about risk and when people might start investing again.

"I don't think people are scared to death and are going to stay out forever, but we have to have a period of stability here to get people to be confident, and get them into those less insured markets," he told Fox..

The Ricketts family offers stability to Major League Baseball for the future of a cornerstone franchise -- and a cathedral of the sport. In the 1984 pennant winning season, Tom and his brother Pete lived in an apartment that has just been demolished behind right field. The lore goes on that Tom met his wife in the bleachers.

More importantly, the Ricketts bid was reportedly lower than others but offered the most up-front cash, one-half billion dollars, a figure that, following Tribune Company creditors, MLB owners can divvy up.

"This is a cartel after all. There are 30 members of this cartel, and you don't want somebody rocking the boat, it doesn't matter if it oil or baseball," said Alan Sanderson, an economist with the University of Chicago.

The Tribune Company is mired in debt and has been trying to sell the team, its home and the TV property for two years.

Chicago's Mayor Daley is happy someone with Chicago connections is the likely buyer.

"It's a sentiment shared with Cubs fans, even if they've never heard of Tom Ricketts," Daley said.

"I think it is important they keep the team here because, you know, in the past, they talked about moving because of the state of Wrigley Field, but a real Chicagoan understands the nature of Wrigley Field and the beauty of it," said Cubs fan Kevin Williams.

A spokesperson says the family has always wanted to buy the team, and while Tom is still on the board of TD Ameritrade, he wants to create a new family business.


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