WILMINGTON, Delaware -- The Tribune Co received federal court approval on Thursday to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team to the Ricketts family for $845 million, part of the bankrupt media company's effort to restructure.
Tribune will transfer the Cubs, Wrigley Field and its stake in a sports television network to a new company. The Ricketts family, which made its fortune from the TD Ameritrade Holding Corp business, will contribute $845 million to the new company and have 95 percent control.
As part of the transaction, the Cubs are expected to file for bankruptcy on October 12 to shed any obligations to Tribune, according to Bryan Krakauer, an attorney for law firm Sidley Austin, which is representing the Tribune.
Krakauer said Major League Baseball was expected to approve the deal shortly.
The sale has been structured as a transfer, and at one point during the hearing Krakauer corrected the judge to remind him the transaction was not a sale.
The complicated deal is designed to be recognized as a disregarded transaction for tax purposes, potentially allowing the Tribune to avoid paying tax on the gain in value of the team.
The Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million.
The Washington Post reported that a leading tax specialist expects federal authorities to challenge the deal's status.
The company, which filed for bankruptcy last year, has been trying to sell the team since real estate magnate Sam Zell bought the company in 2007.
Former Cubs All-Star shortstop Shawon Dunston entered the only objection to the deal. Dunston, who was drafted by the Cubs out of high school, said in court papers he objected because the team owed him scholarship money if he decided to attend college. He withdrew his objection.
The case is In re Tribune Co, US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware No. 08-13141.
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