The most protracted sale in the history of team sports is rounding third and racing, er, jogging, er, kind of shuffling for home!
Chicago Cubs buyer Tom Ricketts is close to lining up three banks to arrange the $450 million financing necessary to complete his acquisition of the team, financial sources said, positioning him to clear a substantial hurdle in the long-running sale of the club.
JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America are set to commit to the deal as soon as the end of this week, the sources said. That commitment would allow Ricketts to submit his $900 million bid to the court that’s overseeing the bankruptcy filing of current Cubs owner Tribune Co. The court likely then would take 30 to 45 days to process the offer, one source said, leaving a potential closing ready by July.
MLB at that point could wait until its August owners meeting to approve the deal or could call a special owners meeting to address the sale earlier.
It’s big and complicated and involves three banks and seemingly unsupportable debt, so it’s basically the business equivalent of turn-back-the-clock night. Instead of retro jerseys, the guys closing the deal will wear three-button suits and carry separate cell phones and PDAs. One other retro flourish:
Ricketts has been trying to sell preferred notes in the team to raise another $50 million. These so-called “perk notes” would give the individual lenders special access to games, team executives and spring training. The notes would be repaid after 15 years. Sources differed on whether Ricketts would succeed in selling the notes, with some saying there was interest and others describing it as a hopeless cause.
Given what has happened in Yankee Stadium this year, I can’t help but think that Ricketts’ attempt to sell such hyper-exclusivity is going to fail in spectacular fashion. Why would anyone want “special access” to Jim Hendry anyway? He doesn’t exactly give off a privileged, limited access vibe. Heck, I probably have even odds of running into him in the suit department at Kohl’s or on line at Burger King or something. He may actually be in the phone book.
In any event, almost-congratulations to the Cubs for nearly getting themselves purchased in a marginally sensible deal in a less than adequate time frame.