Cuban submits application to buy Cubs

Cuban submits application to buy Cubs

CHICAGO -- Mark Cuban would definitely be welcomed by the Cubs players if he were to purchase the ballclub.

Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet entrepreneur, told the Chicago Tribune that he has submitted an application to purchase the Cubs.

"He likes to win," Cubs pitcher Scott Eyre said on Friday of Cuban. "Anything he's done in business or life, he's a winner. He brings a winning attitude and atmosphere. I don't think he'd get a warm reception if he tries to change Wrigley, though."

Cuban has upgraded the Mavericks' locker room and facilities since taking over the NBA team, and although the players' space at Wrigley could use some improvements, the ballpark is a classic.

"As long as he doesn't change the aura or mystique of Wrigley, he'll be fine," Eyre said. "Maybe he can bring in a voodoo guy and get rid of the goat curse."

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who will be a free agent after this season, said he liked the idea of Cuban taking charge.

"I think he would bring whatever it takes to win the World Series," Zambrano said. "Plus, I can be signed by him. I know he'll have money for me."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella does not know Cuban personally, but does know his reputation.

"He's a character," Piniella said. "He's obviously got the resources. I do know he has a lot of charisma and he likes the competition and he likes to win, so certainly he's a very viable candidate. There's going to be a lot of people who want to buy this franchise."

On Thursday, the Tribune reported the Ricketts family of Omaha and Chicago had signed a non-disclosure agreement, and was readying the application to bid on the franchise, which is required by Major League Baseball. Thomas Ricketts, 41, the founder and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Incapital Holdings LLC, an investment banking firm, heads the group.

The newspaper cited other potential bidders, including a group led by John Canning, head of the Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners and a part-owner of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cuban's interest was made public on Friday. He co-founded HDNet, an all high-definition television network on DIRECTV which launched in September 2001. He also co-founded Broadcast.com, the leading provider of multimedia and streaming on the Internet, and sold it to Yahoo! in July 1999. Before that, he co-founded MicroSolutions, a leading National Systems Integrator, in 1983, and later sold it to CompuServe. He purchased the Mavericks in January 2000.

The Tribune Co., which owns the Cubs, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, WGN TV and other media assets, put the team up for sale in April. The newspaper reported Thursday that the price for the Cubs, Wrigley Field and Tribune's quarter share of cable channel Comcast SportsNet could exceed $1 billion.

The Tribune Co. purchased the team in 1981 for $20.5 million from the Wrigley family.

The sale of the Cubs is subject to approval of Major League Baseball, and Cuban would have to be approved by Commissioner Bud Selig.

Piniella said he knew of a group in Tampa, Fla., that was looking into possibly bidding for the Cubs.

"It's a wonderful, wonderful franchise in a wonderful city," Piniella said. "There's going to be a lot of demand and a lot of interest. It's good to see that people like this are interested in buying the Chicago Cubs."

Could he work for someone like Cuban, who often argues with NBA officials from his courtside seat?

"I can work for anybody," Piniella said. "I've done this for 20 years. All I do is my job on the field. There are going to be a lot of people who have interest, and Mark's one of them.

"We'll see what happens this winter," Piniella said. "There will be demand for this club and there should be."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.