Report: Cubs In Financial Trouble

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cubs were once one of the most reliable moneymakers in baseball, but they have now found themselves in Major League Baseball’s financial doghouse.

The Chicago Tribune’s Bill Shaikin and Phil Rogers reported Friday morning that the Cubs have turned up on a list of financially suspect franchises.

The Cubs have found themselves on a list with the infamously cash-strapped Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, as being out of compliance with MLB debt rules. Also on the list are the Baltimore Orioles, the Detroit Tigers, the Florida Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Texas Rangers, and the Washington Nationals, the Tribune reported.

No information is available about why exactly the team is in such serious debt. The Cubs’ roster is only worth $120.4 million in guaranteed salaries, compared with $469.3 million for the New York Yankees and $207.8 million for the White Sox, the Tribune reported.

The newspaper said the Cubs are likely in debt trouble because of the complex financing involved when the Ricketts family bought all but a small share of the team from the Tribune Company in 2009. The deal also included Wrigley Field and Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

The Cubs declined to comment to the Tribune on the issue, and referred questions to MLB.

LISTEN: Joe Ricketts talks about when his son Tom approached him with the idea to buy the Cubs

Joe Ricketts, the father of team chairman Tom Ricketts, said back in 2010 that he wasn’t keen on purchasing a sports team. But once Tom told him that the Cubs traditionally sell tickets whether the team wins or loses, the elder Ricketts agreed to pursue ownership.

However, every season since 2008, the average attendance at Wrigley Field has dropped. The average attendance in 2008 was 40,743, so far in 2011 it’s 34,818.

In recent months, the Ricketts family has been looking to secure tax dollars for some of its efforts – specifically those involving upgrades at Wrigley Field.

In March, Ricketts reached out to Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who had yet to take office at the time – to discuss a plan for renovating the ballpark with public and private funds, according to published reports.

Ricketts also issued a proposal for using tax funds for Wrigley upgrades last year. The proposal would have frozen the city’s revenues from amusement taxes charged on game tickets at Wrigley at 2009 levels, and the increased revenue would have gone toward paying off bonds that would have been issued for improvements.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said in November that he was “not against” the project, but expressed skepticism about a plan that would take tax money away from “increasing the number of police officers hired or new street lights or sewer lines.”

But state lawmakers never took up the issue.


    Would you pay seven dollars for a beer?
    “Well, uh,. . .I wasn’t too happy with-”
    “Would you pay eight dollars for a beer?”
    “Wait? What happened to seven?”
    Would you pay a broker that is, actually, affiliated with the organization?
    “Is that legal?”
    But wait, there’s more! Act now, and you’ll get a ticket hike! Outrageous “quick out” parking prices and
    a 140 million dollar ball club that hasn’t won a pennant in ’66 years!
    Base running errors! Fielding errors! Pitching miscues! Swinging miscues!
    AND a manager carousel that never ends!

  • Clint Eastwood

    Well played Mr. Spaulding. Very clever. I LOL’d.

    P.S. A buddy of mine back in the old neighborhood of Brighton Park, when I met his Dad for the first time he introduced himself and said…..”Hello I’m Mr. Spaulding, perhaps you’ve played with my balls before”. I LOL’d and told him that’s a “keeper” I’ll use that in the future sometime. : )


      Thanks, and, it’s more of a carryover from Caddyshack.

      The classics always work.

  • Denver Deadite

    A payroll “only” worth $120 million.

    What a waste of money. What a joke.

  • Larry

    Tommy wants to snow you, the fan. All he talks about is how great Wrigley is and how wonderful it is to be there, regardless of what happens on the field.


      Had there been playoff success there still may have been an “attendance bubble.”
      The sad thing about baseball (or hockey) is that a World Series doesn’t guarantee a sold house next season.
      But, Tome Ricketts didn’t crunch the baseball figures, and he bought the team from a guy who didn’t crunch the baseball figures.

      People with stack Busch Stadium not only because there is long term success there (for whatever reason), but because it is very easy to get to and it’s brand new. (I, accidentally crossed the river again, and still got to the first inning)
      You could, almost, say the same thing about the White Sox, but they have to compete with the Brewers, Twins, Tigers, Cardinals and Cubs. The Cardinals were the only team west of the Mississippi for a while (excluding the Browns).

  • CMH

    Bring back Ryno, and we will come!

    • AT3374

      What’s he going to do with this team ?

  • jc

    Tear it down, and rebuild. Then they will come!

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