Ricketts picked as winning Cubs bidder

January 23, 2009 7:10:32 AM PST
The fight for one of major league sports' prized teams appears to be over and that means the Chicago Cubs could have a new owner at the start of the season. The winning bid: is in the neighborhood of $900 million dollars.

They may be known to many as the lovable losers. But one hundred years of futility has done little to lessen the value of the Cubs. Their sale price is expected to be the largest in major league baseball history. And the man who is expected to be the new face of ownership, Tom Ricketts is himself a long-suffering fan.

"He and his family seem to have the money. They have the interest in baseball. They have wonderful Chicago connections. In many ways, he's the kind of owner that we as Cub fans hope for," said Lester Munson, ESPN senior writer.

The Ricketts family founded the Ameritrade Company. Tom Ricketts also owns a Chicago bond trading company. The deal is being forwarded to Tribune Company creditors and will go from there to be voted on by major league owners. Experts say they expect the process should go quickly, certainly before the start of the season.

The news of a possible new owner immediately lit up the phone lines on sports talk radio.

The Ricketts family issued a statement on Thursday night that said, "the Tribune Company informed us today that our family has been selected for exclusive negotiations to buy the Chicago Cubs.

Sources tell ABC7 that Ricketts bid offered the highest cash value but was not the highest overall bid. And it's not a done deal yet.

"He has to show that he can come up with the financing. He's probably got most of it lined up but that's a trick in this environment. Then it needs to get sent to major league baseball for approval," said Mike Colias, Crain's Chicago Business.

The winning bid is reportedly $900 million. It includes the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent interest in the regional sports network. Ricketts lives in the northern suburbs but once had an apartment across from the ballpark. And he met his wife in the bleachers during a game.

Experts expect him to easily win approval.

"The Chicago connection and the continuity is very appealing to the city and certainly to major baseball. He also has two degrees from the University of Chicago so I hope that will help him out," said Allen Sanderson, University of Chicago sports economist.