(Trib CEO Denis FitzSimons, reading CSTB’s vast archive of Ben Schwartz contributions)
No one can ever prove the endless kvetching and financial pressure put on the once mighty Tribco by this reporter and the owner’s dog didn’t force the sale, but real estate mogul Sam Zell has stepped into the Tribune quagmire with an 8.2 billion dollar bid for the entire Tribune Co. Prize assets of the Tribune Corporation include the complete WGN video library of BOZO’S CIRCUS (including Billy Corgan’s single “finale” appearance that killed the beloved show), the first (and mysteriously-not-on-DVD) late night Dennis Miller show, and the crown jewel of the empire, columnist Bob Greene’s glory years before the teenage girl thing hit the fan. Greene is in a legal dispute with the Tribco over whether or not his toupee can be considered the closest thing he has to an “intellectual property” because it’s worn on his head, but otherwise Sam Zell is now master of quite the media powerhouse. There are tv stations and other newspapers assets used as loss leader tax write-offs in LA and Baltimore, and there is also the Chicago Cubs to consider.
In the same way that the Trib writes off hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisitions as “losses,” or inflates ad circulation numbers on its papers, or sold the Corgan appearance as the series “finale” (nonsense, Corgan killed that show — what parent would allow their kid to see more?), Tribco has also argued its mismanagement of the team for 25 years is actually “a billygoat curse.” The average Cub fan believes this, as much of the business community believed in Tribco and Enron, but over the last few years the IRS, business affairs analysts, and this blog have taken a calm, reasoned, and entirely logical view of the problem. The billygoat was discovered to be cursing the LA TIMES, not the Cubs, and the Cubs are simply a badly run organization.
While the LA TIMES will be holding a seance to improve its circulation tomorrow, the Cubs have dumped the worst player in its history, the Tribune Corporation. So long, you greedy slouches. As the soon to be Tribune free Cub web site and Carrie Muskat reports:
The Tribune Co. said it plans to sell the Cubs at the end of the 2007 baseball season, putting one of its most valuable assets on the block as it simultaneously announced Monday that real estate magnate Sam Zell was acquiring the media conglomerate in a deal valued at about $8.2 billion.
The Tribune Co. purchased the team in 1981 for $20.5 million from the Wrigley family, a sale that ended the longest continuous operation of a franchise by the same family in one city.
Analysts estimate the Cubs could sell for $600 million or more.
“The Cubs have been an important part of Tribune for more than 25 years and are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports,” Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer, told The Associated Press. “In our last season of ownership, the team has one mission, and that is to win for our great fans.”