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Friday, March 29, 2019

The Inside Story Of How The Ricketts Family Schemed And Feuded Their Way To Owning The Chicago Cubs

The Ricketts family were one of the first bidders to pursue the Cubs, and by the summer of 2008 Joe Ricketts was regularly receiving updates about “Project North Side,” which is what the family codenamed their quest for the team.

These emails depict the purchase process as a herculean task, spanning years and requiring the efforts of an ever-expanding cast of lawyers, consultants, and bankers. They reveal new details about the tax-dodging particulars of the sale and a near deal-wrecking amount of late-stage animosity between the Ricketts and the Tribune, and provide further insight into the exploding value of MLB franchises, and how that explosion has changed what it means to own and root for a baseball team.

Additionally, they reveal a fair amount of intra-family squabbling, much of it genuinely tense. This is revealing not just for the broad insight it gives into the workings of one of America’s foremost political families—one that happens to operate like a business—but more narrowly for how it shows the would-be owners of one of America’s most famous sports franchises jockeying to use the purchase to burnish their own personal brands. Teams are businesses; they are also mechanisms the rich and powerful use to project their images and stroke their egos.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 29, 2019 at 11:16 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs

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   1. bfan Posted: March 29, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5826662)
Teams are businesses; they are also mechanisms the rich and powerful use to project their images and stroke their egos.


Which is why when they sell, they go for multiples (related to their earnings) far and above what they are worth.
   2. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 29, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5826675)
Great article. F&L is MLB's law firm, no?
   3. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: March 29, 2019 at 01:42 PM (#5826701)
Yep, great article. Also, horrifying. No matter how cynical I feel I'm getting, I still feel terribly naive. Evil really does always win.
   4. Quaker Posted: March 29, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5826704)
I'm halfway through and see nothing evil in any of the "scheming" required to buy the team so far.
   5. Rally Posted: March 29, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5826709)
Haven't read it but I assume the "scheming" is what the mega rich (barely a billionaire, net worth tied up in many different assets) have to do to buy something that a mega-ultra rich (like Steve Ballmer, 40 B+ net worth) can afford with pocket change.

If Jeff Bezos wanted to he could afford all 30 teams in MLB.
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 29, 2019 at 02:10 PM (#5826721)
This reads more as "deals are super complicated when completing billion dollar transactions", rather than "scheming".
   7. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 29, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5826725)
F&L is MLB's law firm, no?

One of them I'm sure. Manfred came from Morgan Lewis, who supposedly gifted their mlb.com domain name to MLB.
   8. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 29, 2019 at 02:26 PM (#5826727)
7: No, I mean because the old guy who was commish was from Milwaukee and he was tight with the F&L so that meant whatever the case F&L was THE law firm for MLB. Or so I thought.
   9. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: March 29, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5826730)
You besides all the tax dodging? Just because it's par for the course (considering the Trib is being held somewhat accountable means it went well beyond the usual) doesn't mean it wasn't scheming.
   10. Quaker Posted: March 29, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5826753)
I don't see trying to minimize one's tax burden as evil. If the IRS disagrees with the Trib's/Ricketts' interpretation, it says the Ricketts are going to have to foot the bill, so again, I don't really see the problem.
   11. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 29, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5826754)
With Tommy boy the face of the team are we ok to assume that Laura and Todd and others are still really mad and donate their part of the profits to charity?
   12. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 29, 2019 at 03:26 PM (#5826760)
If Jeff Bezos wanted to he could afford all 30 teams in MLB.


So could Ichiro!
   13. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: March 29, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5826784)
I don't see trying to minimize one's tax burden as evil. If the IRS disagrees with the Trib's/Ricketts' interpretation, it says the Ricketts are going to have to foot the bill, so again, I don't really see the problem.

I didn't say it was evil, as I'm trying to avoid political discussions, but I do believe what they did was well beyond your normal ultra-rich tax minimization shenanigans (them mostly being Zell and the Tribue, FWIW) and the IRS does appear to agree.
   14. Brian C Posted: March 29, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5826804)
I don't see trying to minimize one's tax burden as evil.

Well, there's "trying to minimize one's tax burden" and then there's out-and-out dodging taxes. Granted, the line between the two is extremely blurry, but it would appear that Zell and the Trib put together a tax avoidance scheme that they knew full well to be on legally shaky ground. It may not be "evil", but it's close enough that one can't really complain about the label.

A couple of other reactions to this:

1) The Ricketts come off better in this than I expected. Deadspin tries to throw some innuendo of conspiracy in their direction from time to time (e.g., these documents show that stadium renovations were part of the plan the whole time!), but it doesn't amount to anything in my eyes. Mostly I just thought it was interesting to read how deals like this really come together.

2) Along those lines, the family squabble angle is overplayed to me. So Laura and Todd were miffed enough about Tom getting too much press that they mildly and courteously complained in a few emails, big deal. In fact, I think those "feuds" should have been kept out of the article altogether. The financial angles here have enough public interest to justify publishing the story, I feel, but I actually feel bad for the family having the gossip stuff aired in the press. Even billionaires should be able to expect some measure of privacy in personal matters like that.
   15. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 29, 2019 at 05:29 PM (#5826810)
[5] MLB rules disallow any owner from owning more than one team. This was allowed in the 1890’s and it lead to things like the Cleveland Spiders getting gutted for players and going 20-134.
   16. Bug Selig Posted: March 30, 2019 at 08:07 AM (#5826990)
MLB rules disallow any owner from owning more than one team.
Until Jeff Bezos hypothetically wants them not to disallow that.

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