Celebs May Be Cubs Closers

Ricketts has financing from three banks; looks to celebrity Cubs fans

Apparently, baseball teams are kind of hard to finance.

That's the lesson a financial amateur like ourselves will take away from Tom Ricketts' attempt -- now nearly completed, but still, no, not quite done -- to buy the Chicago Cubs.

The sale of the club was one thing. It was month after month of bids and speculation and more bids and more speculation. In the meantime, a financial meltdown and a huge recession hit. It was not the best time to be buying or selling a baseball team.

And yet, Tom Ricketts and his family are forging ahead.

The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that Ricketts has lined up financing for the purchase from three banks: J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. All together, he needs to round up about $450 million in loans; according to the Journal's "financial sources," Ricketts is very close to acheiving that number.

And the team is not coming cheaply.

Ricketts will pay steep banking fees, and the interest rates on the loans are still being determined. Still, though, it puts Ricketts one step closer to prying the Cubs out of Tribune Company's cold, bankrupt grasp. The next step is showing the financial details to the bankruptcy court overseeing Tribune's bankruptcy. If it's approved, the deal could be closed by July.

But it may end up taking more than banks. The Chicago Tribune is reporting today that Ricketts has also "held separate discussions with a handful of celebrities to raise money from them and other wealthy  Cubs fans willing to pony up as much as $25 million."

Included in his list of celebrity Cubs fans are Bill Murray, Jim Belushi and John Cusack, said two sources familiar with Ricketts' proposal. Come on, guys. Step up for the team.

In other words, as one source told Paul Sullivan today, the deal is "proceeding slowly, but proceeding." At this point, mere procession is good enough for us.

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.

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