14 Oct 2009

Chicago Cubs files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

8:01 am on 14 October 2009

The Chicago Cubs baseball club has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of moves to sell it.

The Cubs are owned by media group Tribune, which also owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

Tribune declared bankruptcy in December and is now trying to sell the Cubs to the billionaire Ricketts family.

The BBC reports that the Cubs' bankruptcy filing is intended to make sure that the club's new owners are not liable for claims from creditors of Tribune.

It is the first time that a Major League Baseball club has declared bankruptcy since the Baltimore Orioles in 1993.

The only other time it has happened was when the owner of the Seattle Pilots declared bankruptcy after the 1969 season. The team was sold and moved to Milwaukee, where it became the Brewers.

Protection expected to be brief

The Cubs are only expected to be in Chapter 11 briefly.

Tribune is to sell 95% of the club, together with a 25% stake in sports television network Comcast SportsNet Chicago for $US823 million to the family of Joe Ricketts, founder of the online brokerage TD Ameritrade.

The sale was approved last week by the owners of the other 29 Major League Baseball clubs and is expected to be completed by the end of October.

Tribune has owned the Cubs since 1981, when it bought the franchise for $20.5 million from the confectioner Wrigley's, the name of which is still carried by the team's stadium, Wrigley Field.

The BBC reports the Cubs are renowned for not having won baseball's championship, the World Series, for 101 years - the longest title drought in US sport.