Cubs sale now on front burner


The Chicago Cubs had a good season, but have now been eliminated in the playoffs. So, instead of heading to the World Series, Tribune Company honchos can focus on selling the team. There appear to be plenty of interested bidders.

Losing three games straight to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League playoffs was an inauspicious end to what had been a strong season for the Cubbies, extending the team’s string of seasons without a World Series win to 99. Chances are good that there will be a new face in the owner’s box next season. As Sam Zell and an Employee Stock Ownership Plan move to take Tribune Company private, the Cubs were put up for sale in April. That process can now shift into high gear. Publicly traded MVC Capital, headed by Illinois native Michael Tokarz, is the latest potential buyer to come to light in the pages of the Chicago Tribune, which is closely following the team auction. MVC’s founders also have local ties: Leo Melamed, Chairman Emeritus of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange; and former US Senator Adlai Stevenson III (D-IL). Previous reports have listed Madison Dearborn Partners head John Canning, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the billionaire Ricketts family as bidders for the Cubs.

Meanwhile, the Cubs exit from the playoffs was bad news for TBS, which is telecasting the National League playoffs. Not only did the Arizona-Chicago series only run three games, depriving the cable net of ad revenues from the potential 4th and 5th games, but now it has a National League Championship Series pitting two western teams against each other, Arizona vs. the Colorado Rockies.

RBR observation: Rupert Murdoch has to be relieved that Fox cut back on its Major League Baseball playoffs commitment this year and let TBS take the National League Championship Series. A Cubs run after a potential World Series win would have been a big ratings draw, but TBS is now stuck with an NLCS with no big market team and no regional diversity.