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Cuban seeks Chicago-area partners

Vying for Cubs, Cuban goes local

CHICAGO -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is reportedly trying to lure some local business people to his side to help his bid for the Chicago Cubs.

According to a story in Crain's Chicago Business, Cuban has used intermediaries to approach at least three local executives about partnering with him on his $1.3-billion bid for the team.

Cuban, a Pittsburgh native who lives in Texas, is reportedly the highest bidder for the Cubs. He doesn't have any local connections, and if he were able to add some Chicagoans as partners, it would most likely strengthen his bid. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has repeatedly expressed a preference for local ownership for teams.

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

Last month, Cuban was among five bidders who advanced to the second round. Among the groups that did not advance was one led by Madison Dearborn Partners chairman John Canning. Canning, a friend of Selig's, was considered a front-runner to purchase the Cubs from the Tribune Co. Canning's group included Patrick Ryan, former Aon Corp. chairman; Andrew McKenna, McDonald's Corp. chairman; and Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. chairman.

The Cubs' next owner would have to receive 75 percent approval from other Major League owners. In late July, NBA commissioner David Stern endorsed Cuban, saying MLB owners "should welcome him," according to Bloomberg News.

At least two of the groups that did advance to the next round have Chicago connections. Tom Ricketts heads a Chicago bond-trading firm, and Hersh Klaff is a Chicago real estate executive.

Other bidders include Michael Tokarz, chairman of Purchase, N.Y.-based MVC Capital, who graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a group that includes New York-based Clarion Capital Partners LLC managing partner Marc Utay and media investor Leo Hindery.

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

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