Image via WikipediaI personally find this Mark Cuban situation fascinating. Here’s a guy who has been extraordinarily successful in a number of businesses (including as the owner of a professional sports team), and he is presumably the highest bidder for the Cubs. Yet despite all of that, there’s a pretty good chance he won’t be approved by the other 29 owners.
Now, that dynamic is interesting enough by itself. But here’s where I think it could get really interesting: if the Tribune Company does in fact choose Cuban’s bid, and Cuban fails to get the 23 votes needed for approval, will he be willing to challenge MLB’s antitrust exemption in the courts?
A lot of this will probably depend on how much he really values the asset. The exemption is the result of a Supreme Court ruling, and has been held up by that court twice since. Needless to say, it would be a terribly expensive battle, although I think Cuban would stand a very good chance at winning.
But then there’s the other side. The last thing Major League Baseball wants is for that exemption to come under judicial scrutiny. Could the threat of this be enough for them to approve Cuban as a member of their fraternity, even if many of them would be uncomfortable with it?
It’s a bit ridiculous that this discussion could even come up. Cuban may seem like a publicity whore, but he’s created that image in a way that’s made himself and his companies boatloads of money. He is a master evangelist and a new-media-billionaire, both of which make him a very enticing owner of a major entertainment brand like the Cubs.
The question is, will the other owners let their egos get in the way of common sense? It should be very interesting.
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