Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel
A bat, glove and ball rest on the field before the Chicago Cubs' home opening game against the Houston Astros on April 9, 2007 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.
Cubs chairman Crane Kenney said Wednesday it "will be a challenge" to complete the sale of the team by opening day on April 6 and that talks between the Ricketts family and the Tribune are ongoing.
"There's a negotiation that's occurring, and like every negotiation, there's an issue or two that probably wasn't spotted early that needed to be resolved," he said. "None of them are in any way fatal to the transaction. It's standard stuff, I would say. And the credit markets are challenging, and this is a transaction that will have some amount of debt on it."
A top baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the sport doesn't make announcements prior to balloting, said a vote by owners to approve the deal isn't likely to take place until mid-May at the earliest.
The next scheduled meeting of owners is in New York in May. While it is possible owners could vote by telephone before then, all the necessary paperwork hasn't even been submitted to MLB.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday at the team's spring-training facility in Mesa, Ariz., Kenney discussed the talks between Tribune Co., which has owned the team since 1981, and the Ricketts family, which won exclusive negotiating rights on Jan. 22 in a deal worth about $900 million.
"The Ricketts family and the Tribune are very close to the terms of their deal, which is the first domino that needs to fall," Kenney said. "From there, because of the Tribune bankruptcy, we need to have a court involved to approve the terms of the transaction supporting the creditors, who, obviously have a great interest in seeing how this transaction unfolds."
Tribune Co. put the Cubs up for sale on opening day 2007, and Kenney previously expressed optimism the sale could close by this opening day. Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy in December, but the Cubs were not included in the filing.
Kenney said baseball commissioner Bud Selig has been supportive.
"(He) has assured me he'll do whatever it takes to jump through hoops, if that's what's necessary at various committee levels within baseball, to get this finished," Kenney said. "I think it will be a challenge to make opening day. If I were to tell you we were going to make opening day, everything would have to fall into place just perfectly, and the world's an imperfect place, so I would say that's probably unlikely."