Look forward to hearing this excuse for the next six months from all your favorite teams and leagues: “Gosh, we’d love to <do something good for the team or sport>, but the credit crisis has prevented us from <spending any money that doesn’t come from taxpayers>.”
That’s the current excuse why a big player contract would be awful or using their own cash for a new stadium is right out at the moment. You know… as opposed to when it was a bad idea last year.
Writ large, Sam Zell (Tribune Co. and Chicago Cubs owner) has chosen That Darned Credit Crunch as the reason he now may not be able to sell the Cubs completely, settling for shuttling off just as much of a minority stake as he can to pay down debt that he saddled Tribune Co. with when he bought the company in the first place.
It definitely has nothing to do with negotiating ploys like a ridiculous asking price or inane attempts to split the Cubs from Wrigley Field for the tax break.
Of course, Zell has one buyer that can probably pull off the deal without breaking a sweat: Mark Cuban. It must simply kill him to hear more reports that Cuban won’t even be allowed to own a baseball hat if Bud Selig and the Owners have any vote in the matter. (And they have 30 of them.)
So there sits our poor hooved anti-hero, watching his ploy to leverage his liquidity into yet another questionably-funded deal collapse on him like a wall of ivy-shaded bricks. Maybe he can sell off enough assets to make his next debt payment early next year; maybe the whole sale collapses and the banks take over the Tribune Co and sell the Cubs for what they can get.
(Okay, so that’s a bit ludicrous, but it would answer the question, “How could the Cubs and their fans possibly get more distressed after 100 years of eventual failure?”)