Our long, local baseball-related nightmare is over. Almost.
The Cubs' sale was approved by a bankruptcy judge, according to the Associated Press, meaning new ownership can officially take over the team pending Bud Selig's go-ahead. As it is a nearly mathematical certainty that Selig and the owners will likewise approve the deal soon, the Cubs are sold. Basically. Almost.
Judge Kevin J. Carey authorized Tribune to sell the family a 95 percent stake in the team, the stadium and related sports properties for $845 million. The deal also needs approval from three-quarters of Major League Baseball's 30 team owners. The owners have not scheduled a vote on the Cubs sale, although one could come as soon as their meeting in November.
The Tribune plan calls for a separate bankruptcy filing by Chicago National League Ball Club, an affiliate not involved in Tribune's current Chapter 11 case. The CNLBC bankruptcy proceedings should last only a few days but is needed to ensure that sale is free of all liens and claims and that existing contracts can be transferred to the new owner.
The Ricketts family, tentatively selected as the winning bidder last January, had agreed to pay about $900 million for the package. But that total was renegotiated, with Tribune retaining a small stake for tax purposes.
That last bit, about Sam Zell retaining some ownership of the club, is the last remaining bit of suspense in the Cubs sale. Will the IRS allow Zell's tax-related gambit, or will they come calling? $300 million is a lot of money, even to the U.S. Treasury.
But, for all intents and purposes, the sale is final. The owners' vote is merely a formality. Bud Selig shouldn't have any problem signing the paperwork. And that, as they say, will be that. Finally.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.