NEW YORK -- Bidders for the Chicago Cubs have until Dec. 1
to submit offers, Major League Baseball said Wednesday after a
meeting of its ownership committee.
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said
representatives of four bidders have met in New York in recent
weeks with officials from the commissioner's office, MLB's Internet
company and the sport's new television network.
The team was put up for sale in April 2007 when Tribune Co., the
Cubs' owner, announced it was being acquired by real estate
developer Sam Zell. DuPuy said the latest deadline was set by the
"Bids are expected the week after Thanksgiving," DuPuy said.
"Mr. Zell claims the team is for sale and they're moving
The Tribune Co. declined comment, spokesman Gary Weitman said.
Given the current financial climate and the difficulty in
raising capital, there has been widespread speculation that bidders
are having trouble raising money for a purchase of the famously
unsuccessful franchise, which hasn't won the World Series in a
Baseball officials do not think Dallas Mavericks owner Mark
Cuban has been part of the bidding process for months. Cuban was
charged Monday by federal regulators with insider trading for
allegedly using confidential information on a stock sale.
In other actions:
-- MLB said it had ceased efforts to locate the MLB Network in
Harlem and would keep the offices and studios are their temporary
location in Secaucus, N.J.
-- The sport adopted a budget with no increase for 2009, deferring
unspecified projects because of the deteriorating economy.
-- Discussions took place to formalize in the rules commissioner
Bud Selig's decision that postseason games cannot be shortened due
MLB took in a record $6.5 billion this year, but DuPuy said the
economy had caused baseball to be cautious in its spending.
"No one wants to count any dollars before they actually come
across the transom," he said.
Of specific concern has been the Nov. 10 announcement by
Deutsche Post AG, the German parent of DHL, that it will no longer
offer U.S. domestic-only air and ground services as of Jan. 30. DHL
sponsors MLB awards for relief pitchers, and the company has
agreements with some individual teams.
"We've had very positive conversations. They're staying in
business obviously, they're just shifting their emphasis
internationally," DuPuy said. "But obviously in this market we're
talking to all of our sponsors to make sure that we give them as
much value as possible for their sponsorship dollars and try to
keep them all in place."
As for the network, a $435 million project with Vornado Realty
Trust was announced in January to construct a 21-story office
building in Harlem at Park Ave. and 125th St. Instead, baseball has
decided to remain at the former MSNBC studios in Secaucus.
"The Harlem project ran into difficulty getting financing,
developer financing," DuPuy said. "There's no activity on the
Harlem project. At the moment, we're very satisfied with the
Secaucus facility. It's a terrific facility and will serve our
needs very well."
Staffing at the network had doubled to about 120 over the past
month, ahead of its January launch, and there will be about 155
employees when hiring is completed. Auditions are taking place this
week for studio staff and next week for reporters. While the
network originally contemplated broadcasting Saturday night games,
DuPuy said discussions are ongoing to shift those to Thursday
DuPuy said talks also were underway on the issue of not
shortening postseason games. Selig decided last month that Game 5
of the World Series wouldn't be cut short by rain. While the game
was suspended with the score tied after 5½ innings, Selig said if
one team had been ahead when play was stopped, he would have
presided over the longest rain delay in baseball history until
weather allowed action to resume.
"The commissioner has indicated his intention of getting that
done," DuPuy said. "There are various approaches that could be
taken, and we're still working on the process."
Approval of the players' association might be necessary.
DuPuy also said:
-- MLB officials discussed last week's presentation to the
International Olympic Committee. The sport hopes to regain Olympic
status for 2016.
-- Talks were continuing over clubs' local television territories.
-- Wendy Lewis had been promoted to senior vice president from
vice president of strategic planning, recruitment and diversity.