Non-Sale-of-Cubs Stories Rapidly Gaining on Non-Acquisition-of-Brian-Roberts Stories
With all of the excitement—and by excitment, I mean disgust—over the likely Cubs signing of Jim Edmonds, there wasn't an opening here yesterday to note the snag in efforts to peddle Wrigley Field to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.
The Sun-Times reported Tuesday morning that the state agency and Tribune Company owner Sam Zell had failed to reach an agreement because the state's offer relied...
...on a novel and untested financing plan: the sale of
individual seats at Wrigley as if they were condominiums. The idea is
called equity seat rights and has been advanced by Chicago area
business executive Lou Weisbach, who has applied for patent rights on
Zell, Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney and their advisers have concluded
that the equity plan and its tax ramifications would violate both the
Internal Revenue Service code and the rules of Major League Baseball...sources said.
Very late Tuesday night, however, the Tribune reported that the ISFA and Zell will continue their negotiations and that "sources said...the media conglomerate is privately
indicating it might hold off selling the ballclub if the inevitable
need for costly repairs at the antiquated ballpark significantly
discounts the bids it fields for the team."
Tribune Company is due to begin paying down its debt with the banks on December 4th, when a $650 million payment will be required. At one point, it was thought this might ensure the sale of Wrigley Field and the Cubs before the end of 2008. But Zell's recent agreement to sell Newsday, a deal that will net Tribune Company about $630 million in cash, gives the foul-mouthed billionaire the latitude to take his time negotiating the sale of the ballpark and the team.