I was wondering to myself whether this deserved a blog entry since Patrick Mooney laid it out so well in his article, but after seeing yet another article (and more) pop up on the Twitters within minutes of each other, it seems like this is going to be a huge deal.
Via the Associated Press:
Cubs spokesman Julian Green confirmed published reports Thursday that the Ricketts family is considering selling non-controlling shares to pay for a proposed $500 million upgrade of Wrigley and redevelopment of the surrounding area. The Ricketts own 95 percent of the Cubs, with the Tribune Co., which sold the team to the family, owning the rest.
Although it was speculated for some fans and media, I don’t believe that the Ricketts family is running out of money. They had enough lying around to buy up all the draftees and prospects that Theo Epstein and friends wanted to throw money at, and they also had enough of a stash to at least make Masahiro Tanaka‘s decision a little harder this past winter. So the money is there. What I do agree with is that because the Cubs are under a spending restriction due to the way the franchise sale was structured, they need more creative ways to generate revenue while their spending on payroll continues to be stifled.
I’m not entirely sure that this proposed “minority shares sale” will be open to the general public a la Green Bay Packers stock, but it’s not unlike some other franchises that are owned by conglomerates and/or various individuals rather than just one major Mr. Moneybags. Considering the amount of money that the Ricketts family plans to sink into the Wrigley Field renovations/expansion and the potential amount of litigation they may have to finance, making more money from other sources is a good idea, even if you are a billionaire.
It was fun for a bit to think that we could put together a World Series Dreaming Cubs Share Fund to maybe snag a time-share suite at Wrigley Field one day, but I think the Ricketts family is hoping for some slightly bigger fish than us peasants to help them with the bills. I’m anxious to see how this plays out and how the rest of the media is about to spin this.