Ricketts family buying Cubs from Tribune

MLB owners must approve the deal

CHICAGO -- After 18 months of fits and starts, Tribune Co. has reached a definitive deal to sell the Chicago Cubs and landmark Wrigley Field -- bringing much-needed cash to the bankrupt media giant, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

Citing a "source familiar with the matter," Tribune reporter Ameet Sachdev wrote on the paper's Web site that the agreement with the Ricketts family had been reached over the weekend, and the contract has been forwarded to Major League Baseball -- which would have to approve the new owners.

The deal is "close" to the $900 million bid the Ricketts group offered earlier this year when it was picked as the finalist in the auction process, the Tribune reported, citing the unnamed source. In addition to the team and stadium, the sale includes Tribune's 25% take in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, a regional cable sports network.

Tribune has been struggling under nearly $13 billion in debt, most of it taken on when the company went private in a December 2007 deal engineered by chairman and CEO Sam Zell.

The Ricketts, whose bid reportedly is favored by the other team owners who will vote on the ownership change, are wealthy principally due to their stake in the parent of the discount stock brokerage TD Ameritrade.