Chicago Cubs File for Bankruptcy, As Part of Sale

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – The Chicago Cubs baseball team filed for bankruptcy on Monday as part of the team’s planned sale to the Ricketts family by the Tribune Co, according to court documents.

The Cubs bankruptcy is aimed at shedding any claims on the team related to the bankruptcy of Tribune Co, a media conglomerate.

As part of the agreement that received the approval of a bankruptcy court last month, Tribune will contribute the Cubs, Wrigley Field and its stake in a sports television network to a new company.

The Ricketts family, which made its fortune from the TD Ameritrade Holding Corp business, will contribute cash to the new company and have 95 percent control. The new company has been valued at $845 million and the Tribune has said it expects to end up with $740 million from the deal.

“Today’s action has been anticipated for some time and is part of the process involved in transferring a controlling interest in the Cubs assets to the Ricketts family,” Tribune said in a company statement.

At least two baseball teams have been bought out of bankruptcy.

In August 1993, a group led by attorney Peter Angelos purchased the Baltimore Orioles, while baseball’s current commissioner, Bud Selig, led a group that in April 1970 bought the Seattle Pilots, moved the team to Milwaukee and renamed it the Brewers.

The Cubs’ largest unsecured creditors include JP Morgan Chase Bank, owed $8.57 billion, and Merrill Lynch Capital Corp, with $1.6 billion. Both act as agents on behalf of groups of creditors whose claims will remain against the Tribune Co.

Major League Baseball is listed as a creditor for an undetermined amount and the Chicago Cubs Charities are listed as owed $1.12 billion. Luis Vizcaino, a pitcher who played briefly with the team in April, is listed as the fifth-biggest unsecured creditor, owed $500,000, according to the bankruptcy filing.

The Cubs said other players are not listed as it is assumed their claims will remain with the team after ownership changes.

The case is In re Tribune Co, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141.

(Reporting by Tom Hals; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Chicago, editing by Matthew Lewis)