Tribune Company (NYSE:TRB) announced today that it plans to sell the Chicago Cubs and the company’s 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago after the conclusion of the 2007 baseball season. The sale is expected to be completed in this year’s fourth quarter.
“The Cubs have been an important part of Tribune for more than 25 years and are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports,” said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer. “In our last season of ownership, the team has one mission, and that is to win for our great fans.”
Tribune has long-term contracts in place for Cubs programming on WGN-TV, Superstation WGN, WGN-AM Radio and Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The company was a founding partner when Comcast SportsNet Chicago was launched in 2004 and holds a 25 percent stake the network, which will broadcast 72 regular season Cubs games in 2007.
“This transition will not impact our on-field performance,” said John McDonough, Cubs president and chief executive officer. “We expect to compete and win — our goal of bringing a World Series championship to Cubs fans everywhere hasn’t changed.”
Tribune purchased the Chicago Cubs and historic Wrigley Field in 1981. Attendance has soared in recent years, setting a record of 3,170,184 fans in 2004. Total attendance again surpassed 3 million in 2005 and 2006.
The sale of the team is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball.