SBD/13/Franchises

DID O'MALLEY FEEL BURNED BY L.A.'S TREATMENT OF HIS NFL BID?

          Dodgers President Peter O'Malley decision to put the
     Dodgers up for sale was examined in an analysis by Wilgoren
     & Rutten of the L.A. TIMES.  O'Malley "appears to have been
     influenced ... [by] his deep personal disappointment over
     the failure of the city and the community immediately around
     Dodger Stadium to back his bid" for an NFL team, but "the
     relative importance of O'Malley's unhappiness with the
     city's treatment of his football bid is hard to gauge."  A
     source "close to O'Malley" says that O'Malley was "disturbed
     greatly" when L.A.'s City Hall asked him to bid for the
     franchise, then backed the bid to put an NFL team at L.A.'s
     Memorial Coliseum rather than Chavez Ravine.  L.A. Mayor
     Richard Riordan: "Unfortunately, his bid never got a chance
     to play itself out fully."  Steven Soboroff, Riordan's
     Senior Policy Advisor said the Dodgers "never completed a
     thorough economic analysis of their (NFL bid) and they were
     a long way from financially validating its viability."  
          QUESTIONABLE SUPPORT? The TIMES' Wilgoren & Rutten cite
     "knowledgeable sources" inside L.A.'s business and legal
     communities, who say O'Malley's feelings about the NFL
     sequence of events "probably paled in comparison to the
     financial considerations and his well-known distaste for the
     current culture of major league baseball -- particularly its
     player salary structure and revenue-sharing policies."  With
     O'Malley unable to "grow his business" by acquiring an NFL
     team, other investors said that he had to "confront" the
     fact that his extended family was dependent on a single
     asset -- the Dodgers -- "which was not only liquid, but also
     experiencing increasing cash flow problems. ... [T]he
     Dodgers -- though generally profitable -- have had to borrow
     increasing amounts to meet short-term expenses in recent
     years."  Even with the sale, some familiar with NFL
     negotiations believe that O'Malley "may yet get involved in
     pro football" as an owner of a franchise that would play
     either in the Coliseum or elsewhere (L.A. TIMES, 1/12).
          WEEKEND REAX: In Boston, Peter Gammons notes that
     O'Malley "did promise" NL owners that he will continue the
     "fight" for a new MLB commissioner at this week's meetings
     in AZ, because, for one thing, "he believes having a new
     commissioner will enhance the value of his franchise"
     (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/12).  In Houston, Alan Truex notes that
     O'Malley "unwittingly contributed to his demise by joining
     with the radicals to oust commissioner Fay Vincent --
     thereby setting the stage for the devastating three-year
     labor war" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/11).  ESPN's Bob Ryan:
     "Anybody who knows anything about sports must concede that
     both Walter and his boy knew how to run a franchise.  There
     truly was something known as a 'Dodger Touch,' and now it
     will be lost forever" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 1/12). 

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