US: Cubs’ 2011 sale could become next target of baseball exemption debate

Former Baseball Hall of Famer and seven-term congressman Jim Bunning is speaking out the recent sale of the Chicago Cubs team as one that exemplifies the harm of baseball’s continued antitrust exemption, according to reports.

Bunning, who served two terms as a senator, lead multiple challenges to the century-old antitrust exemption and, while he says he does not see much interest in Congress anymore to combat that exemption, the recent sale of the Cubs team could soon shake lawmakers into motion.

MLB owners approved of the sale of the team in 2011 from Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family, but Bunning says the transaction could be used to gain traction against MLB’s antitrust exemption, because the legal monopoly blocked major bidders from acquiring the team.

Activist investor Mark Cuban, for example, was barred from the Cubs bidding process despite offering $1.3 billion for the franchise – more than 50 percent more than the Rickettses’ offer. Cuban said he was also blocked from buying the Texas Rangers despite offering more than the winning bid.

”If somebody like Mark Cuban wants to buy a team and offers something like $2 billion, and they tell him he cant, if they made an exception for a specific sale, it would be against the antitrust laws,” Bunning said.

According to reports, Cuban is disliked among MLB executives because he threatens salary hikes for the players.

It was a controversial sale that Bunning hopes will encourage lawmakers to fight baseball’s antitrust exemption.

Full content: Sun Times

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