Sam Zell’s crazy gambit

Given how the John Moores was able to sell a huge stake in the Padres to Jeff Moorad almost overnight, one wonders why it has taken Sam Zell so long to sell the Cubs. Well, besides the fact that unlike the Padres’ deal, the Cubs sale wasn’t an exercise in Kabuki theater designed to help Moores fianance his divorce and avoid unloading the team in a fire sale. A partial answer to that question was released yesterday, and it involves a totally farkakte plan to spin off Wrigley Field:

But papers released by the Illinois Finance Authority shows how complicated any deal involving the Cubs and Wrigley Field could have been. Indeed, Zell proposed a sale of Wrigley Field to the state of Illinois that’s fairly breathtaking in its audacity.

Zell had proposed selling Wrigley Field to the state for $45 million, while retaining a 5 percent stake. (Zell always tries to retain a stake for tax purposes; it lowers the tax liability on any transaction.) The state would then spend $300 million on a renovation of Wrigley Field.

The Cubs would then sign a 30-year lease for Wrigley Field, paying $25 million annually in rent — a total of $750 million.

The deal doesn’t pass the smell test. It pushes the costs of Wrigley Field renovations onto new owners, but when this was proposed the Tribune Co. was still in negotiations with several suitors, all of whom we’re told were heavily against this deal.

More details here, including an appearance by a guy — William Brandt — whom I once had the displeasure of dealing with in the course of a complicated criminal representation. I have to say, the fact that he’s caught up in all of this mess almost makes the unreasonably protracted drama of the Cubs’ sale worth it.

(thanks to Pete Toms — the person you can usually blame for me going off on business tangents — for the link)

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  1. YankeesfanLen said...

    Well, what do you expect in Chicago- that’s part of the charm and why I liked it so much (Jersey boy feels right at home. Twenty years ago, the Sox threatened to move out of town or to suburban Addison- what a mecca for South Side fans! (Google the location- it’s NW just below O’Hare).
    That got settled much as Yankee and Shea- as I was leaving for a while in 90 they were building
    “New Cominsky” right next door.
    I had very little pull there, but could arrange free parking in Wrigleyville for 3PM Friday afternoon games- 36,000 other people did the same, no one ever knew the score after 3 innings and 3 16oz Old Styles.

  2. Hank said...

    Hey YankeesfanLen, you been drinking when you wrote that?  Come back when you can write a coherent sentence.

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