Cuban pitches locals in bid for Cubs

Aug. 09, 2008

By: Ann Saphir

Mark Cuban is trying to woo deep-pocketed Chicagoans to help bolster his bid for the Cubs.

The billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner used intermediaries to approach at least three local execs about partnering with him on his $1.3-billion bid, according to a source. The three turned down the offer.

Mr. Cuban, a Pittsburgh native who lives in Texas, is reportedly the highest bidder for the Cubs but lacks local connections. Having Chicagoans as partners would strengthen his standing with Major League Baseball, which must approve any new ball club. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has repeatedly expressed a preference for local ownership.

“If he has equity investors who also have Chicago ties, you could kill two birds with one stone,” says Frank Murtha, a sports consultant in Northfield who teaches sports law at Northwestern University. “That would certainly meet the objections to him as an out-of-town person.”

Mr. Cuban’s odds of winning the Cubs increased last month after Tribune Co. deemed a competing bid from a group led by Madison Dearborn Partners Chairman John Canning too low. Mr. Canning, an investor in the Milwaukee Brewers and a friend of Mr. Selig’s, was considered a front-runner. His group is a who’s who of Chicago’s business elite and includes former Aon Corp. Chairman Patrick Ryan, McDonald’s Corp. Chairman Andrew McKenna and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. Chairman Richard Melman. Mr. Canning hasn’t decided whether he’ll rebid.

STRIKES

Mr. Cuban is among five bidders who advanced last month to a second round that’s expected to last into the fall. It’s unclear whether any Chicagoans are entertaining a joint bid with Mr. Cuban, who was in Chicago for a Cubs-related charity event last week. He declines to comment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cuban’s penchant for courtside antics and critical blog entries



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