The Chicago Tribune has been keeping a close eye on the bidding for the hometown baseball team, which its parent firm, Tribune Company, has put up for sale. Internet/media billionaire Mark Cuban, who already owns a basketball team, has submitted his bid, but several others are also likely to make a play, including another with a broadcasting history, Craig Duchossois. He's a local industrial mogul in Chicago, but Duchossois Industries got into radio ownership in several large and medium markets in the 1980s as Duchossois Communications, selling the last of them in the mid-90s. Other local candidates are said to include Chicago Wolves (American Hockey League) owner Don Levin; Tom Ricketts, whose father in Omaha founded the TD Ameritrade discount stock brokerage; a group headed by John Canning, head of the private equity group Madison Dearborn Partners; and a joint bid by attorney Thomas Mandler and businessman Jim Anixter. Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA also lives in Big D, so is obviously not local, which may weigh against him. The Tribune also cited rumblings that some MLB owners just don't want the outspoken Cuban in their club.
SmartMedia observation: With so many well-heeled bidders, the final price tag should be substantial. Forbes magazine a few months ago ranked the Cubs as the 5th most valuable team in baseball, with an estimated value of 448 million bucks. But that was before the team was actually on the auction block. The Chicago Tribune says there are now rumors the bidding, which includes Tribune Company's one-quarter stake in the regional Comcast SportsNet, could end up around a billion bucks. Not a bad return for Tribune Company, which bought the Cubbies in 1981 for 21 million.