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Cubs for Sale

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Apr 3, 2007 1:54PM

2007_04_sports_cubs_wrigley.jpgAfter months of speculation that the Cubs might be put up for sale as part of a restructuring or sale of Tribune Co., almost immediately after the board's approval of Chicago billionaire Sam Zell's offer, news came that the team would in fact be sold.

Now the handicapping can begin on who the new owner will be. There has certainly been no shortage of potential bidders mentioned. Of course, that was before the Cubs went out and loaded up on $300 million in new salary obligations.

Jerry Colangelo is one possibility. A Chicago Heights native and current owner of the Phoenix Suns, he was also managing partner when the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series. His name came up back in November when there was speculation of a sale, and in response to yesterday's news he said, "Now we'll revisit it. It's fresh, it's new. I'm going to be watching with interest."

Back in November, seemingly everybody with a eight-figure bank account expressed interest in buying the Cubs or forming a group of investors to do so. Among those mentioned were Ernie Banks, Donald Trump and Billy Marovitz. Any of those would bring something unique to the table. What could be better than having "Mr. Cub" as the face of ownership? But on the other hand, given the managerial revolving door, Trump's skills might be uniquely beneficial. And Marovitz? As son-in-law to Hugh Hefner, we can only imagine the marketing opportunities. Plus, maybe Marla Collins could get her job back!

Others mentioned back in November included John Canning Jr. — a local private-equity investor who currently owns a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers — and William Wrigley Jr., whose family sold the team to the Tribune in 1981. Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin also expressed his interest in the team. His fan-friendly management of the Wolves has helped his minor league hockey team outdraw the NHL "Original Six" Blackhawks at times.

Of course, the biggest name associated with the Cubs purchase — and also the most recent one — is Mark Cuban. Just last month, he denied that he had made a $650 million offer for the team, but one never knows if he wasn't interested or playing coy. In the past, he has expressed some interest. As Chicagoist has made clear, we believe he's the best thing that could happen to the Cubs. After three decades of corporate ownership, and racing hard towards that century of futility, his passion for his teams would ensure a World Series title on the North Side quicker than anyone else could. Maybe as soon as 2020!