I know that there's an economic crisis going on in the United States right now, but I have to tell you, from what I've seen I can hardly tell. Everywhere I go during this holiday season I'm seeing people spend a bunch of money on gifts and apparently Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney has seen the same things because he's pretty optimistic that the Cubs will finally have a new owner come spring training.
On Monday there were at least three bids put in on the team from such folks as real estate magnate Hersh Klaff, financier Tom Ricketts, and two private equity investors from New York named Mark Utay and Leo Hindery Jr. None of the three groups will need a bailout from the government to buy the team, either, which makes them all that much more attractive for ownership.
"People are ready to come in, and while the economy is as challenging as it is, I think the value of the franchise really hasn't changed long-term," said Kenney. "I think the bidders are all well financed and understand that. They didn't deviate much from where the value should be."
Now this isn't the first time that the team has been rumored to be close to a sale, so I'm not sure we should really expect the team to have new ownership before they perform calisthenics for the first time in 2009. Even Kenney nearly said so while saying that he hopes the team is sold before the spring.
"Sam doesn't operate under any deadline for this," Kenney said. "It could take as long as he wants it to, but for all of our benefit, we hope by spring training we're finished. And that will be good because there's a lot of planning we want to do that has some long-term implications. Not just the player contract stuff. Having an owner at the seat at the table would help."
As you noticed, although three seperate groups put in bids for the team we don't know how much they bid, and you have to wonder what Kenney meant when he said the groups "didn't deviate much" from what they think the value of the team is. I have a suspiscion that none of the bids put in were for as much as Zell would like, and that he just might sit on the team another year hoping that the economy balances out and the bids get bigger before he pulls the trigger on anything.