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Sharks swimming with the White Sox

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Who’s the shark ... and who’s lunch? | wikipedia.com

Reinsdorf tries a new way of tanking

Think Jerry Reinsdorf’s The 78 handout is dead in the water without state funding? Maybe not.

We now tune your televisions to ABC-TV, on some Friday night in the near future ...

Announcer: Next into the tank are two men who want to build a monument to themselves.

[cue music, as Jerry Reinsdorf and Stephen M. Ross enter]

JR: Hi, sharks, I’m Jerry from Highland Park, Illinois.

Ross: And I’m Stephen from Palm Beach, Florida.

In unison: And together, we’re The Self-Monument Builders!

[the Sharks smile]

JR: Sharks, we’re here seeking $1 billion in exchange for 1% of our company, Monument to Us. Each of you has a nifty artist’s rendition of a new ballpark for my team, the Chicago White Sox.

Ross: And surrounding it, you can see all sorts of fabulous development on my property, The 78, that is bound to happen with your help.

In unison: So what do you say Sharks? Are you ready to build a Monument to Us?

Robert Herjavec: This is a really nice drawing. Very pretty. But none of this actually exists, right?

Ross: Not yet. That’s why we need your help.

Robert: $1 billion dollars for 1% of your company means you’re putting a valuation on it of $100 billion. We’ve never had a request that big before, and we’ve never had anyone just offer 1% of a business.

JR: Actually, Robert, we originally were going to seek the billion for 0%, but your producer said we had to offer at least some portion of equity.

Robert: Well, that portion isn’t large enough for me, and I’m really more interested in auto racing than baseball. I wish you well, I guess, but for those reasons, I’m out.

Ross: Thank you, Robert. Of course, this is much more than just a baseball stadium, it’s also a huge development for all kinds of businesses that are bound to bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.

Lori Greiner: I’m from Chicago. I was born there and still live there, so I’ve paid some attention to this project in the past. I can see it’s in what is known as the South Loop, which has become a prosperous area in recent years, but I can’t see where the project adds anything to the area except traffic and, probably, a lot of drunks.

JR: It will bring in tens of thousands of jobs. And hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.

Lori: Well, any jobs and revenues it creates will just be taken from other businesses in the city, so even if I believed you — which I don’t — I don’t see value in the project. I can’t see any potential profit for me. You may have misunderstood the premise of this show — we’re supposed to be the sharks, not you. As a lifetime Chicagoan, I’ve seen a whole lot of Chicago bamboozles, but this is the bamboozlest. For those reasons, I’m out.

Ross: What if we bought enough politicians to get them to give us all the sales tax collected from The 78, for no reason whatsoever?

Lori: I’m sorry, I’m still out.

[commercial break]

The Sharks have different kinds of hangups with Jerry and Stephen.

Announcer: Two sharks are out, but Barbara, Kevin and Mark have not yet discussed Jerry and Stephen’s proposal for their company, Monument to Us.

Barbara Corcoran: Stephen, as you know, I’m also a fairly large player in New York real estate, though not nearly as big as you. Your company is absolutely huge, and your personal net worth is listed at more than $10 billion. So I don’t understand why you need a shark. You alone have more than enough money to cover this size of development, even without Jerry here, whoever he is.

Ross: Well, Barbara, if we don’t get an outside investment from a shark or a hedge fund or government suck — er, entities — we’ll have to put up the money ourselves,. And we don’t want to do that.

JR: Personally, Barbara, I really don’t believe in ever spending any of my own money.

Barbara: That’s pretty much what I thought would be the case. As for your ridiculous ask, I agree with Lori — we’re the ones who are supposed to be the sharks. I’m out.

Ross: I’m sorry to hear that, Barbara. Would you be interested if we upped the equity to 2%?

Barbara: No.

JR: Mark? Mr. Wonderful? We haven’t heard from you.

Mark Cuban: Obviously, I’m pretty familiar with the professional sports space. I never did a stadium deal — my predecessor, Ross Perot, set up our facility, which the Mavericks and Stars share, and we were responsible for all cost overruns and improvements. Between us we paid about five times the rent you pay for your current stadium, Jerry — and I thought our deal in Dallas was reasonable. I have to say, Jerry, the way you ripped off Illinois with your current ballpark, leaving local and state governments stuck with all kinds of extra costs, was really something. I’m sure grifters everywhere appreciate what you pulled off, though I don’t.

JR: I don’t think, Mark, that ...

Mark: Let me finish. When I sold the Mavs, I said it was in large part because I saw the future of team ownership as being as much or more real estate than sports, and I see you have the same idea. That should make me interested. But aside from this insane ask, because you and I were both NBA team owners, Jerry — well, I actually owned my team, didn’t just arrange it so I controlled everything even without a majority stake — I know you, I’ve seen how you operate, and I never, ever want to be involved in any business dealings with you. For that reason, I’m out.

JR: I see. Mr. Wonderful, it’s all up to you now.

Kevin O’Leary: So it is. Well, I’m going to pretend that your original ask was to demonstrate what tremendous senses of humor the two of you have, and I’m going to make you an offer.

Mark: You’re making a big mistake.

Kevin: Hear me out. As I understand it, Stephen, your company, uh ...

Ross: The Related Companies. Though it’s just one of our subsidiaries involved in this project.

Kevin: Subsidiary, subschmidiary, as I like to say. I’m interested in the whole outfit. And Jerry, you own the White Sox?

Mark: He owns less than a fifth, but manipulated it so he has total control.

Kevin: And you own the Chicago Bulls as well?

Mark: Maybe 40%. Same deal.

Kevin: And some real estate.

Mark: Forbes has his net worth at $2.4 billion.

Kevin: Which is just fine. I’ll give you the $1 billion, but I want 60% equity, That’s 60%, not just of what looks like a lot of silly artist’s conceptions with no basis in reality, but 60% of the White Sox, Bulls and Related Companies — no, I’ll settle for Related Midwest, I’m not greedy — with actual control in all cases.

JR and Ross: We couldn’t possibly ...

Kevin: I’m not done. I also want personal guarantees from both of you, and, given your ages, your heirs and assigns. Plus, because it’s hard to get a share per unit, there being so many variables, I want a royalty of $200 million per year until I recoup my investment, then $100 million per year after that.

Mark: I’d normally just scoff at that as Kevin being ridiculous, but in this case, it’s probably a pretty good offer. In fact, because we’d have control and Jerry would be subservient to us, I’m willing to go in with Kevin and provide my expertise in sports ownership — which I was much better at than Jerry has ever been, Michael Jordan notwithstanding.

JR: Would you consider 3%?

Mark and Kevin: 60

Ross: We could maybe go as high as 5% if you limit it to just this project.

Mark: No. The offer is firm.

Kevin: You have 30 seconds.

[JR and Ross converse quietly]

Ross: Would you take 10% and no royalty or personal guarantee?

Kevin: I think we’re done here, gentlemen.

Sharks as a group: Thanks for coming, we guess.

He who laughs last ...

[JR and Ross exit the tank and are interviewed]

JR: Well, we didn’t land a shark, but that’s their loss.

Ross: Yep. Now we’ll just have to buy a bunch more politicians, but we’ll show them.

[Back in the tank]

Barbara: Got to give them credit for chutzpah, I guess.

Robert: Just so you don’t give them anything else.



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