For the second day in a row, Tribune Company staged a major news conference. One difference between today's and yesterday's was that today's did not include Japanese interpreter Matt Hidaka.
Thursday's event marked the official acquisition of Tribune Company by Chicago billionaire Sam Zell. In outlining his plans for the company's future, Zell said the Cubs will have a new opener by Opening Day '08. He also said the team may peddle naming rights to Wrigley Field.
As reported Thursday in Crain's Chicago Business:
Based on transactions at other ballparks around the country, (Zell said) such rights could be “extraordinarily valuable..."
Mr. Zell is selling the team and related assets, such as the ballpark and a cable TV stake, to help pay off Tribune’s $13-billion debt. He may sell the assets separately to boost his overall take from the transaction. As part of that strategy, he has been working on a possible deal with the governor to sell Wrigley Field to a state entity.
“We believe that that transaction, when completely vetted, is very beneficial for the city of Chicago and for the Cubs,” he said of the possible sale of Wrigley Field to the state.
A spokesman for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. declined to comment on whether the candy maker would consider purchasing naming rights for Wrigley Field, which has carried the Wrigley name since 1926.
"At this point (selling naming rights) is just speculation," he said. "There is nothing concrete for us to comment on at this time."