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Do You Want to Own The Cubs?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Aug 6, 2007 2:42PM

2007_08_sports_cubs_wallet.jpgWhy should billionaires have all the fun? Pretty much any sports fan has fantasized about how they'd run their favorite team if they owned it, and lots of people consider the Cubbies to be their favorite team.

A number of them are using the Cubs' impending sale to try to get a piece of the team, even if they don't quite have a 10-figure bank account.

Eric Majeski formed 4 Fans Sake, through which he wants to find other Cubs fans willing to buy shares in the Cubs. Under Majeski's plan, shared would be sold for $100 with individuals limited to to $100,000. He has requested an ownership application from MLB and hopes to work with banks to hold money for the bid in escrow.

Majeski's not the only Cubs fan hoping to line up other fans to bid for the Cubs. But some realize that a band of small investors isn't likely to be taken very seriously by the league.

Perhaps that why Brian Gongol wrote an open letter to Mark Cuban, looking to partner with the billionaire owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. While Cuban has made formal overtures to buy the Cubs, he's clearly not the favorite of commissioner Bud Selig. Would a bid that includes the Wrigleyville riff raff help Cuban's bid?

Don't get us wrong, while we question the attempts at fan ownership of the Cubs, we certainly admire the movement and the idealism of those like Eric and Brian.

Both hold up the Green Bay Packers as an example for successful ownership in the hands of the community. But they're the exception to the rule. Football's revenue sharing, lucrative television rights, strict salary caps on team payroll, and prohibition of corporate ownership mean a financial structure very different from other pro sports.

Partnering with the likes of a Mark Cuban is probably a more likely way to go about gaining some element of fan ownership. The populist Cuban would seem to be more likely than another bidder -- the rest are willing to extend invitations to join their syndicate only as far as other multimillionaires. But does Cuban need the fans' help to buy the team? Or any of the other bidders? Not really. And more importantly than money, how can the grassroots bidders help navigate the politics among the league and other owners that would be required to become the winning bidder for the Cubs?

Our post prompted another group to let us know about their similar initiative -- Let's Buy the Cubbies. The group is accepting pledges ranging from $200 to $20,000 with the intension of firming up the pledges once the accumulated cash reached $600 million. So far they've received pledges from 46 people totalling $293,800. Like the others, they hold up the Green Bay Packers as inspiration.

Since so many fans are trying the same thing, and the money involved is such a huge chunk of change, might they be more successful were they to team up? Unify their pools of pledged funds, unify their PR campaigns and maybe the movement would get big enough to grab the attention of the bigger players. Maybe they would be willing to open up a small part of the team's ownership to the rank and file fans.

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