Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cub ownership speculation

We have been talking about the potential ownership change for a long time on this blog. Recently, a bigger realization has hit Cub fans nationwide. The Cubs sale is having an impact on this teams season. It all started with the Zambrano contract being pulled off of the table in 11th hour. Recently a trade of Jacque Jones was nixed. Finally the msm has realized that maybe the change in ownership could effect Jim Hendry's ability to make the moves needed to win this season. So much so that my favorite (tongue in cheek) Bright One columnist Greg Couch wrote an article about this today. I'm just glad to see Greg has been able to move away from the Premium Tickets topic for at least a day.

Another Candidate
John Canning's name first came up on the crappy/unpopular blog back in November when we speculated on the Cubs next owner. A few weeks ago Canning became the clear cut leader at the turn. Cannings friendship with Bud Selig, Chicago ties, and small stake in the Milwaukee Brewers seemed to make him a slam dunk to be the next Cubs owner. The thing that makes the Cubs sale more interesting is the fact that the Tribsters and Sam Zell are going to maximize the sale of this team, whether Uncle Bud likes it or not. Well this morning the first signs of a bidding war for the Cubs found it's way into the msm:

The family that founded discount broker TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. has joined the list of potential bidders for the Chicago Cubs, the Tribune has learned.

Sources close to the situation said the Ricketts family of Omaha and Chicago has signed a non-disclosure agreement with Cubs owner Tribune Co. and is readying the application Major League Baseball requires of all parties wishing to bid on one of its franchises.

The Ricketts group is being led by Thomas Ricketts, the 41-year-old founder and chief executive of Chicago-based Incapital Holdings LLC, an investment banking firm.

He is the son of J. Joe Ricketts, an Omaha billionaire who founded Ameritrade and built it into one of the biggest Internet-based discount brokerages. His older brother is Pete Ricketts, who last year lost a bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Ben Nelson in the Nebraska race for the U.S. Senate.

Here is a bit more from that article in the Tribune including the Ricketts families interest in the Chicago Cubs.

Sources said the Ricketts family, by contrast, is keeping a low profile and working to burnish its credentials with the league, which has the right to veto any potential bidder.

The family's wealth is obvious enough. Forbes Magazine this year estimated its worth at $2.3 billion. But the family is pressing to emphasize Tom Ricketts' ties to Chicago and the family's interest in being long-term owners of the Cubs, both important factors to a league interested in protecting one of its most storied franchises.

Though he grew up in Omaha, Tom Ricketts received a bachelor's degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago and worked as a pit trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange before forming Incapital with several partners.

Tom's younger sister Laura, who started a Web firm called, also lives in Chicago, as does younger brother Todd, who has worked in the financial-services industry.

Pete Ricketts told a reporter during his Senate campaign that at one time he lived across the street from Wrigley Field and is a longtime Cubs fan.

The family's wealth, however, emanates from Omaha. It was there that Joe Ricketts took a smallish discount brokerage founded in 1975 after the industry was deregulated and turned it into Ameritrade.

He was early to see the Internet's potential in attracting investors interested in trading for themselves instead of using a full-service broker. Ricketts spent around $3 billion in 2005 to buy rival TD Waterhouse, creating a firm with almost $12 billion in market value.

It may not be Canning it may not be the Ricketts, but somebody is going to have a real chance to buy this ballclub and be a civic hero, hell a hero across the country to Cub fans, if they can hire the right people and make this team a winner. While many concentrate on the second half of the season, I urge you to keep an eye on the future of this franchise. The biggest moves that will impact the future of your Chicago Cubs will not involve ballplayers on the field but suits in boardrooms putting together the deal that will end the miserable fan experience that has been Tribune Corporate ownership.

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