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Who Doesn't Want to Buy the Cubs?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 17, 2006 3:30PM

Seriously, is there anybody in this town's upper tax bracket who hasn't thrown their hat into the ring of interested buyers, should the beleagured Tribune Company decide to sell the Cubs as part of their fire sale?

Even before the Trib's latest troubles, some notable bidders went on record expressing interest in buying the team — including the likes of Ernie Banks, Mark Cuban and Donald Trump. While Chicagoist would be all for a Cuban invasion on the North Side, we questioned whether Trump's signature "You're Fired!" would be a bit too common of an utterance should he add the team to his portfolio of casinos, hotels and hair.

Maybe instead of buying the team, Trump could instead host a reality show that would pit the potential buyers against each other in a series of projects that would determine who gets to purchase the team. Make them justify not hiring the NL Manager of the Year, negotiate a free agent contract with an elite starting pitcher, trade for a solid center fielder, and make excuses for why they've gone almost a century without a World Series title.

As Crain's Chicago Business reported on Thursday, as many as a dozen parties are interested in buying the Cubs. At least that's the word according to Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp Ltd.

2006_11_sports_cubs_playboy.jpgAmong the newest entries is a group of 15 investors spearheaded by industrialist Thomas Begel and William "Billy" Marovitz — best known as Playboy CEO Christie Hefner's husband. Would he be hitting up his father-in-law for a loan to cover part of the possible $700 million price tag? Could Marla Collins finally get her job back?

Earlier this week, Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin also expressed his interest in the team, although he has yet to formally approach the Tribune. His fan-friendly management of the Wolves has helped his minor league hockey team outdraw the NHL "Original Six" Blackhawks at times.

Others expressing interest include John Canning Jr. — a local private-equity investor who currently owns a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers — and William Wrigley Jr. His family sold the team to the Tribune in 1981 for just $20.5 million.

With all these bidders thowing their hats into the ring, can the ensuing mix of machismo and fanstasy-sports-come-to-life keep the city's titans from driving the price for the Cubs to levels the Tribune Company just cannot turn down? We have a feeling it is only a matter of time before the Cubs are sold. The only question is whether the buyer will be a local or not? And whether we'll be seeing a "Girls of the Wrigley Bleachers" issue of Playboy any time soon.