Cubs sale finalized
After a two-and-a-half year process, the Tribune Company came one big step closer to divesting itself of most of the Chicago Cubs. The group, led by the Ricketts family, will purchase 95 percent of the team and Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago for the hefty sum of $845 million. That exceeds by far the record amount paid for a baseball team; the previous high being the Boston Red Sox, which sold for $660 million (along with Fenway Park and its television network) back in 2002.
The owners still have to approve the sale but that’s most likely a formality at this point because the Ricketts were pretty much hand picked by the league among the various suitors. There are also still some legal hurdles because Tribune is going to have to put the Cubs into its bankruptcy organization filing, but the hope is to close on the sale during the fourth quarter of this year.
Former Reds owner passes away
Former Cincinnati Reds owner William J. Williams, Sr. passed away this last weekend at the age of 93. Williams was one the principal owners of a group that bought the Reds back in 1966, and he served as the team’s vice president from 1966 through 1982. From 1982 through 1984, he became the general partner of the team. During his reign, the Reds dominated the National League for most of the 1970s with their vaunted Big Red Machine.
Williams’ two sons, Thomas L. and W. Joseph Williams, Jr., were both part of the group led by Mr. Castellini that purchased the Reds back in 2006. Thomas is the vice chairman and treasurer of the team while W. Joseph Williams, Jr. is the team’s chairman.
Twins begin installation of field grass at Target Field
Target Field, the future home of the Minnesota Twins, is getting its grass installed this week. Work began on the turf in the early morning hours this past Monday. It’s supposed to be completed Friday. Underneath the grass is a heating, irrigation and drainage system that will give the grass a nice green look even in early April. The Twins begin play in the new ballpark in April 2010.
Major league teams partner with minor league affiliates
With the growing popularity of minor league baseball and the ability for major league teams to create a team brand, many big-league teams are reaching out to their minor league affiliates in unprecedented fashion. In a very interesting New York Times piece by Ken Belson, we get some details on some of the things that major league teams and their minor league affiliates are doing to bridge their gaps.
He talks about how major league teams have been moving their affiliates closer, and he uses the Cleveland Indians as an example of how this can be a huge benefit. The Indians are even going as far as televising games of their more local minor league affiliates in Akron, Mahooning Valley and Lake County. He also talks about how the New York Mets and New York Yankees are doing similar things as well to take advantage of their affiliates’ close proximity.
Little League World Series a boon to Williamsport area
Based on projections from the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, this year’s Little League Baseball World Series should bring about $20 million in revenue to the area. Hotels appear to be adequately reserved and the linked article goes into a discussion of what should drive attendance. Namely, if a larger metro area makes it far, then attendance has historically been better because of the larger fan base.
Cincinnati stadium fund shortfall
Because of a declining tax base due to the lackluster economy, the Hamilton County Commissioners announced that the county will owe close to $13 million next year to the fund that pays the construction debt for both Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ballpark. This is important to homeowners in the area because tied to the stadium fund is a tax rollback that gives homeowners a credit on their property taxes. If the stadium fund needs money, the homeowners won’t get their credit.