Family explores selling Cubs shares

Updated: April 4, 2014, 6:42 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

Four and a half years after buying the Chicago Cubs and related interests for $845 million, the Ricketts family is considering offloading a piece of its investment.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green confirmed ESPN.com and other published reports Thursday that the family will explore selling minority shares in order to finance the proposed $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field and redevelopment around the stadium, including a plaza and hotel.

Tom Ricketts said it's still uncertain what the future holds.

"We haven't made any final decisions on what we're going to do, but when you have a large project to finance you look at all your different options," he said. "One of the things we will consider is if it makes sense to bring in some outside investors and really be partners to help us rebuild the ballpark and get the team to the World Series."

Sources tell ESPN.com that the ownership group has hired Galatioto Sports Partners, the firm that helped the Ricketts buy the team. GSP already has begun to talk to high net worth individuals with the goal of raising capital through as few investors as possible.

The Ricketts own 95 percent of the Cubs, with the Tribune Co., which sold the team to the family, owning the rest.

"It's uncommon for one family to own that much, so it's pretty normal for other investors to join in," Ricketts said.

Asked if he would sell up to 25 percent, Ricketts said, "It would be south of that in my mind."

Progress around the renovation of Wrigley Field, which turns 100 years old this month, has stalled due to threats by Wrigley rooftop owners. The rooftop owners, who have a contract with the Cubs to give 17 percent of their gross revenues to the club through 2023, are not happy with the Cubs' plans, which threaten to ruin some of the views into the ballpark.

Forbes magazine values the Cubs at $1.2 billion, the fourth-most valuable among major league teams, but sources say the shares being sold will include all Ricketts-related sports assets including the team, the Wrigleyville development project and a stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

The Cubs lost their home opener 7-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.

Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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