CHICAGO -- A group of 15 investors is lining up financing
for a possible purchase of the Chicago Cubs if the baseball team is
put up for sale by its parent, Tribune Co.
Tom Begel, chairman of TMB Industries, said Thursday that he and
other investors expect the team to be sold for up to $600 million.
The Chicago-based media company bought the Cubs in 1981 for
"I'm guessing the bidding will be fierce," said Begel, who
hopes to be able to improve the fortunes of a last-place National League team
that won just 66 games and lost 96 in the 2006 season. "I think
there will be a lot of Chicago groups like ours that right now are
trying to put a coalition together to do this."
Tribune, pressured by large shareholders disappointed with its
stock price, has said it will decide the end of the year whether to
sell certain assets or the entire company. Those assets also
include 11 newspapers, led by the Chicago Tribune and the Los
Angeles Times, and 25 television stations.
Two Southern California billionaires joined forces last week to
bid for the entire Tribune Co.
The company also reportedly received four preliminary bids from
private-equity investors and one from newspaper publisher Gannett
Don Levin, owner of the Chicago Wolves minor-league hockey team,
also said this week he'd contacted Tribune to express his interest
in buying the Cubs.
Begel wouldn't disclose the names of others in his consortium,
but said the group includes "very prominent local people" as well
as others from across the country. He said the group would like to
purchase the Cubs from Tribune or another company that purchases
Company spokesman Gary Weitman declined to comment.
Levin, whose DRL Enterprises operates a variety of businesses
ranging from loose tobacco and rolling papers to medical equipment
and machinery leasing, said he would be able to finance such a
transaction on his own.
"To own the Cubs would be a spectacular thing," the lifelong
Chicagoan, 59, said in an interview. "It would be a great thing."
Guiding the team to a long-elusive World Series championship
would be his goal. "They'd put statues up for you," Levin said.
He said he didn't immediately hear back from the company.
Tribune's shares rose 21 cents to $32.31 in trading Thursday on
the New York Stock Exchange.