Ricketts asking for $450 million

Updated: May 18, 2009, 7:13 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Tom Ricketts, who heads his family's nearly $900 million bid to buy the Chicago Cubs from Tribune Co., has turned to three banks for financing.

The three banks that would finance $450 million are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America, a person close to the family said Monday. The person spoke anonymously because a deal has not been announced.

The story was first reported by the SportsBusiness Journal.

"We'll decline to comment on this speculation," Tribune Co. spokesman Gary Weitman said in an email Monday. The Ricketts family also did not comment.

Securing the financing from the banks could help Ricketts close the deal by the time baseball owners meet again in August, when they could approve the sale. Included in the Ricketts' purchase is Wrigley Field and a 25 percent interest in a regional TV company.

Commissioner Bud Selig said last month he didn't expect the sale to be completed before June. The owners also meet this week.

The Cubs were first put on the market on opening day of 2007 when Sam Zell announced his $8.2 billion purchase of Tribune Co., and it has become a long, tedious and complicated process. Financially troubled media giant Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy in December, but the Cubs were not included in the filing.

Tom Ricketts worked on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, was vice president at Mesirow Financial and a vice president and investment banker at ABN AMRO. Ten years ago he co-founded InCapital LLC, an investment banking and securities brokerage firm.

His father, Joe Ricketts, helped found TD Ameritrade, the online stock brokerage.

Tom Ricketts, a Cubs fan who used to live across the street from Wrigley Field and who met his wife in the park's bleachers, was chosen from three finalists in January to negotiate for the purchase of the legendary team.

The Cubs, who draw near-capacity crowds to Wrigley Field for nearly every home game, have won back-to-back NL Central titles but are still looking for their first World Series title since 1908.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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