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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cuban dips toe in water for buying Cubs          Send a link to a friend

[July 14, 2007]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Add Internet billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to the list of potential Chicago Cubs buyers. "I submitted an app," Cuban said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Interested parties must submit an application to Major League Baseball to examine the team's finances. Cuban told the Chicago Tribune he sent in the application last week, although he wasn't sure of the date.

The Cubs are up for sale because its owner, the Tribune Co., is selling itself to Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell for $8.2 billion. That deal was contingent on the media company selling its non-core assets, including one of the most fabled franchises in sports at the end of the season.

Tribune chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons has conceded it was difficult decision, but one that "really makes sense for our shareholders."

Several potential deep-pocketed bidders are expected to vie for the Cubs and possibly for Wrigley Field, including Cuban and Chicago native Jerry Colangelo, the Phoenix Suns CEO who once ran the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Tribune, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday the family of Omaha, Neb.-based TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.'s founder Joe Ricketts also was considering a bid. Ricketts family representatives declined to comment on the report when contacted by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Forbes magazine recently valued the National League club at $592 million, fifth-highest in baseball, although experts speculate the bidding could start at $600 million.

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Cubs manager Lou Piniella seemed impressed with Cuban's credentials.

"I don't know him, but the guy basically, he's a winner. He's a character. He has obviously got the resources," Piniella said Friday.

"I do know that he's got a lot of charisma. He likes the competition and he likes to win. So he's certainly a very viable candidate to buy the club. But there are going to be a lot of people that want the club."

Piniella, who used to manage the New York Yankees for owner George Steinbrenner, said he didn't think he'd have any problems working with a hands-on boss like Cuban, if that should ever happen.

"I can work for anybody. I've done this for 20 years, all I do is my job on the field. Let me tell you this, there are going to be a lot of people that have interest, and Mark is one of them," Piniella said.

Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, whose negotiations for a multiyear extension were shelved after it was announced the team would be sold, said he would welcome Cuban buying the team.

"I think he would bring whatever it takes to win the World Series," Zambrano said. "Plus, I can be signed by him. You know, I know he has the money for me. Hopefully he can buy the Cubs."

[Associated Press]


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