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)