According to reports from Comcast SportsNet, the Sun-Times, the Tribune and ESPN, the Ricketts family is “exploring opening the Cubs ownership to minority shareholders to help finance” the Wrigley Field Restoration project.
Less than 24 hours after Tom Ricketts’ interview on Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports aired in which he told Armen Keteyian that he “comfortable if the rooftop owners sue” the team in order to protect their views, reports surfaced the family was exploring ways to sell minority shares of the team. Patrick Mooney confirmed the plans with a Cubs source. According to Mooney, the family “hasn’t made any final decisions yet.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is “getting antsy” according to the report from Comcast SportsNet as the team still tries to figure out ways to settle their dispute with the rooftop club owners. Remember, the issue with the rooftops was expected to be resolved before the home opener a year ago.
According to Mooney’s report, the Ricketts family would retain controlling interest in the team. Any shares that would be sold would have to be approved by Major League Baseball and the process hasn’t gotten to the point yet. Mooney reiterated the Ricketts family plans on owning the team “through at least the next generation.”
If the Cubs were to sell minority shares of the team, it would not impact the status of either Theo Epstein or Crane Kenney. The Cubs President of Baseball Operations and the team’s President of Business Operations are under long-term contracts.
The terms and restrictions of the sale of the team from Sam Zell to the Ricketts family would remain in place through the 2019 season. The Cubs television contract with Comcast SportsNet also expires after the 2019 season. At that point, the Cubs are expected to start their own television network, another project Crane Kenney has been working on for several years.
According to Darren Rovell, the “ownership group has hired Galatioto Sports Partners, the firm that helped the Ricketts buy the team. GSP already has begun to talk to high net worth individuals with the goal of raising capital through as few investors as possible.”
Forbes recently valued the Cubs at $1.2 billion but the shares the Ricketts family could be looking to sell would “include all Ricketts-related sports assets including the team, the Wrigleyville development project and stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago” according to the ESPN report.
The team and the rooftop club owners have been at a stalemate for quite some time and the family is tired of the delays. During the interview that aired on Showtime, Laura Ricketts said, “Our patience is out and has been for a while.” Tom Ricketts admitted that he is not sure the family has a Plan B at this point.
- Full Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Full Report from the Chicago Sun-Times
- Full Report from the Chicago Tribune
- Full Report from the Tribune’s Fred Mitchell
- Full Report from ESPN
With the home opener on Friday and Tom Ricketts make his usual stops to speak with the various media outlets, the Cubs’ chairman should address his family’s plans on this matter.