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Cubs' financial books said sent to possible buyers; Cuban believed in the mix

CHICAGO -- Nine potential buyers who have been preapproved by Major League Baseball have received the financial books on the Chicago Cubs, two people familiar with the process told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The books went out Tuesday, with bids due back next month, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the owner, Tribune Co., is trying to keep details of the process confidential.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was quoted last week as saying he believes he "has a shot" at buying the franchise.

"My job is to convince everybody involved that not only is it a good financial move to sell to Mark Cuban but … I can add value beyond just my checkbook to not just the Cubs, to not just the city of Chicago, but also to Major League Baseball," Cuban said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Two sets of books went out. One contains information on the Cubs, Wrigley Field and the regional cable TV network Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The other only concerns Wrigley, which Tribune still hopes to sell separately.

No dollar estimates were given for any assets.

Other interested buyers besides Cuban are believed to include a group headed by John Canning, chairman of private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC and the family of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.'s founder Joe Ricketts.

Sports economists say the expressed interest of several billionaires, among other well-heeled investors, make it a good bet it will exceed the record $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox in 2002 by a group headed by billionaire commodities trader John Henry.

The Cubs' package includes not only Wrigley but Tribune's 25 percent stake in the Comcast sports channel in Chicago, fueling widespread speculation the total could reach $1 billion.

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