The agreement between current Cubs owner Sam Zell and the Ricketts family may mean some wonderful things for Cubs fans in the future, but it won't come without those people continuing to dig deep into their pockets.
The sale will come in at roughly $850 million. The team had a net profit of $45 million in 2008, which, projected out, means at that rate, it would take the Ricketts family 20 years to pay off the debt. According to sources close to the sale, the Ricketts will pay $400 million in cash, and take out a loan for $450 million. That loan will be paid off at 6 percent annually, meaning the Ricketts family will pay close to $30 million annually on the loan.
All of that said, the ultimate goal for the new owners will be to find new ways to generate revenue. One way will be through PSLs (personal seat licensing), which could cost season-ticket holders upwards of $20,000 a seat over a three- or four-year period of time. That type of tariff alone could generate $40 million for the Ricketts family debt service.
Also, a big part of the future picture for the new owners is refurbishing Wrigley Field. According to sources, it will be a $200 to $250 million project that will create new bars and restaurants both in the ballpark itself as well as outside the park in a new building next to the existing structure. This new building will be an extension to the park all the way to Clark Street and Waveland Avenue, where parking lots now exist. The new building will house the Cubs' front-office staff and will also have Cubs-based retail outlets as well as a projected area for a Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame. A multitiered parking structure where the present players' parking lot now exists is also promised to the city as part of the new renovation.
The most spectacular addition to the park could be a JumboTron mounted somewhere in the outfield or on an existing rooftop building. The 'Tron itself could generate $25 million to $30 million per year in advertising revenue if the Cubs can convince the city and Alderman Tom Tunney that the new electronic scoreboard wouldn't be a noise and light nuisance for the neighborhood itself.
Bruce Levine is host of "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturdays on ESPN 1000. To e-mail him your comments, questions and feedback click here.