Court OKs Bankruptcy for Cubs

Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009  |  Updated 7:00 PM CDT
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Court OKs Bankruptcy for Cubs

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CHICAGO - MAY 14: Baseball fans arrive at Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs play the San Diego Padres May 14, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. A deal by the Tribune Company to sell the ballpark to the state of Illinois recently fell through. The Tribune company now hopes to sell the team and the ballpark as a package. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The sale of the Chicago Cubs moved closer Tuesday as a bankruptcy court judge said the team can go to the family of billionaire Joe Ricketts in a $845 million deal.

The judge had already cleared Tribune Co. to sell the team and Wrigley Field. But he gave his approval again Tuesday because the Cubs filed separately for Chapter 11 protection on Monday.

The team cited assets of $1.42 billion and liabilities of $1.26 billion, but the Cubs' finances weren't in question. The bankruptcy filing was made to ensure that the team can't be hit with claims by Tribune creditors, because the ballclub wasn't covered when Tribune filed for Chapter 11 last December.

The Ricketts family's deal for the Cubs could close in a couple of weeks, according to Don Liebentritt, Tribune's general counsel. The deal -- which involves a record price for a major league team -- has been approved by the other baseball owners.

After taxes and fees, Chicago-based Tribune, which owns newspapers and TV stations, expects to reap about $740 million from unloading most of its stake in the baseball team. Tribune will maintain a Ricketts is the founder of Omaha, Neb.-based TD Ameritrade.

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