View Full Version : Colangelo Has Interest in Buying Cubs

11-22-2006, 03:51 PM
Jerry Colangelo, owner of the Phoenix Suns and one-time owner of the D'Backs is inquiring about buying the Cubs from The Tribune Company. This report from the AP tells more. I can think of several wealthy former Chicagoans who might be interested in having a stake in this storied franchise.

Ex-D'backs Colangelo Owner May Buy Cubs

AP Business Writer

November 22, 2006, 1:51 PM CST

CHICAGO -- Former Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo would be interested buying the Chicago Cubs if Tribune Co. puts his hometown franchise up for sale.

Colangelo, chairman of the NBA's Phoenix Suns and former controlling owner of both the Suns and Diamondbacks, said Wednesday he has held "preliminary discussion" with unspecified other people who share his interest in buying the Cubs.

He declined to say whether he had spoken to Tribune Co. or the Cubs about his interest, but said: "You can speculate that."

"If in fact the Cubs become available, and that's a big if, I've stated that I would have great interest," he told The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to keep my options open at this point, that's all."

Colangelo said he had spoken with two different groups of prospective bidders. However, he added, "I have my own interest, not necessarily tied to any particular group."

The 67-year-old Colangelo grew up a Cubs fan in suburban Chicago Heights. A four-time NBA executive of the year and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he brought major league baseball to Arizona in 1998 as managing general partner of the Diamondbacks, who won the World Series in 2001.

He told WSCR-AM on Tuesday that owning his hometown team would be "quite an exciting possibility" and would represent "coming full circle."

Tribune, under pressure from large shareholders disappointed with its sagging stock price, has said it hopes to decide by year's end on a strategic overhaul that could include selling the entire company or certain assets. Those assets also include 11 newspapers, led by the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, and 25 television stations.

The media conglomerate reportedly has told buyers it would focus first on a possible sale of the entire company before the sale of pieces.

"I think everyone is awaiting what they decide to do," Colangelo said. "What I've been advised is that may come down early in December."

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman declined comment.

Don Levin, a Chicago businessman who wants to buy the Cubs, said he thinks after talking with the company last week that the Cubs aren't for sale "right now."

"The Tribune corporation would like to sell itself, and whoever buys it might sell some of the pieces," said Levin, owner of the Chicago Wolves minor league hockey team. "I remain firmly interested."

Another prospective ownership group includes 15 investors, among them Tom Begel, chairman of Chicago-based TMB Industries.

Speculation that Tribune plans to sell the Cubs has intensified with the club's offseason spending spree, including agreeing with outfielder Alfonso Soriano this week on an eight-year contract for $136 million -- fifth-richest contract in baseball history.

Also, several reports have indicated that the company told bidders for the entire company that initial offers were too low.

Analysts have estimated that the Cubs could fetch $600 million or more. Tribune bought the team in 1981 for $20.5 million.

Red in Chicago
11-22-2006, 06:34 PM
jerry grew up a few blocks away from my father and they went to school together...it would be awesome to see a neighborhood guy buy the cubs...maybe i could get some better seats next time;)

11-22-2006, 07:10 PM
That might make the Cubs good. Yikes.

11-22-2006, 07:35 PM
Not trying to be negative or bash Jerry Colangelo (I have nothing against the guy), but... didn't he about run the D-Backs out of business with bad financial moves?


11-22-2006, 08:57 PM
Not trying to be negative or bash Jerry Colangelo (I have nothing against the guy), but... didn't he about run the D-Backs out of business with bad financial moves?


Of course, Wikipedia.org should always be taken with some grains of salt, here's an excerpt from the Diamondbacks tale:

By this time Colangelo and the other partners were embroiled in a dispute over the financial health and direction of the Diamondbacks (and notably including over $150 million dollars in deferred compensation to many players who were key members of the 2001 World Series winning team and others). He resigned his managing general partner post in the late summer of 2004.

Colangelo sold his controlling interest in the General Partnership of the Diamondbacks to a group of investors who were all involved as partners in the founding of the team in 1995. The investors include equal partners Ken Kendrick, Dale Jensen, Mike Chipman, and Jeffrey Royer. Jeff Moorad, a former sports agent, was subsequently named CEO of the team, joined the partnership, and became its primary public face. Ken Kendrick became the managing general partner.

Colangelo was sharply criticized for plunging the team into over $150 million in debt to secure the services of expensive veterans in order to be a competitive team quickly. In a 2004 interview with columnist Hal Bodley of USA TODAY, Colangelo defended his actions:

I understand where some people felt I wasn't doing it appropriately. The only analogy I can use is that Tampa Bay (the other '98 expansion team) went one direction and where did they end up? (Six last-place finishes and low attendance)...We went another direction to establish a fan base because our investment was much larger than Tampa Bay's. And we put so much money into our own stadium ($130 million). After the first year and the decrease in season tickets, I was convinced we had to build a fan base...We won three division titles, a World Series and established a fan base...

...I believe what we did will last a long, long time...Right or wrong, a number of teams today are in the $50 million payroll range and competitive Oakland, Minnesota, Texas are examples. Our goal was to get returns from our farm system. We built into our cash-flow that we would be paying out the deferments and that our payroll could drop to $50 million for a few years...A few things hurt us...The economy was bad, and I was hoping for more national money (from baseball's central fund) coming in. [4]

Also a factor in Colangelo's leaving his post was his advancing age: Colangelo was 64 years of age in 2004, and had he not sold his sports franchises, upon his death, his family would have been faced with having to pay high estate taxes based on the value of the Diamondbacks as well as the Suns (which he sold to Robert Sarver in the spring of 2004). [5]