The Tribune Co. may still be mired in bankruptcy, but at least it has unloaded a "curse."
The parent company of The Chicago Tribune has sold the Chicago Cubs, the lovable denizens of Wrigley Field who last won a World Series in 1908, for a reported $845 million, while retaining a 5 percent ownership interest. Pending approval by Major League Baseball and a federal bankruptcy judge, the Cubbies' new owner is the billionaire Ricketts family, who founded what is now the TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. online brokerage firm.
Included in the sale is a 25 percent interest in Comcast Sportsnet Chicago and the ivy-covered Wrigley Field on Chicago's North Side. The Tribune Co., currently owned by billionaire real estate mogul Samuel Zell, paid $20.5 million for the Cubs when they purchased the franchise from the Wrigley family in 1981, but the media conglomerate, which owns The Los Angeles Times and The Hartford Courant, among other newspapers and television stations, is gummed up by a debt load of more than $13 billion.
A component of the sale involves the Cubs voluntarily entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a means of separating itself from the debts of the Tribune Co. It remains to be seen whether the new ownership will be able to exorcise the curse placed on the Cubs by the owner of a goat that was denied entry to Wrigley Field years ago.