"You know what I tell new owners, when they walk in ... they get a standing ovation," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday. "And I say to everyone, 'That's the last standing ovation you'll get from this group,' and it works out that way every time."
Selig laughed good-naturedly. This is the first MLB owners meeting for the Ricketts family, which formally took control of the Cubs in late October. The Ricketts were to take part in meetings on Thursday.
Selig watched the Oct. 30 Wrigley Field news conference when the Ricketts family was introduced as the Cubs owners.
"I like the way they've started out," Selig said. "They've started out beautifully."
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts skipped the committee meetings Wednesday at the O'Hare Hilton Hotel, while team president Crane Kenney was present for sessions on finance and revenue sharing.
The Cubs were first put up for sale by the Tribune Co. in April 2007, and the deal was not finalized until last month, when the Ricketts bought the team, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent share in Comcast SportsNet Chicago for $845 million. It's the first time the Cubs have had a family and not a corporation as an owner since the Wrigley family.
"I've always said that local ownership is great, and they're here [in Chicago]," Selig said. "[The sale] didn't work out as expeditiously as I would've liked, to say the least. That's the understatement of the year. But it worked out very well."
The Ricketts family has had meetings at Wrigley Field this week. Kenney said they will meet with Florida officials after Thanksgiving week as they continue to explore Spring Training options for the Cubs. The new owners have looked at several sites in Collier County, and they were believed to have narrowed the list to three possible options.
They toured the Mesa, Ariz., area earlier this month, and are considering other locations there than the current sites at Fitch Park and HoHoKam Stadium, which need updating. The Cubs have the option of buying out their contract in Mesa, Ariz., and moving after the 2011 spring. They have trained in Arizona since the 1950s.
The three Florida locations are near Interstate 75, which is east of Naples. The Ricketts would like to create a "Wrigley Village," and need about 120 contiguous acres to build a 15,000-seat stadium, six practice fields, and an upgraded training facility.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.