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DID O'MALLEY FEEL BURNED BY L.A.'S TREATMENT OF HIS NFL BID?
Published January 13, 1997
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).