SBD/Issue 82/Franchises

Eli Broad Offers To Buy Dodgers If McCourt's Deal Falters

Eli Broad On Deck Should
McCourt Strike Out

L.A.-based developer and philanthropist Eli Broad "has offered to buy the Dodgers for $430[M], mostly in cash, if Boston developer Frank McCourt's highly leveraged bid falls through," according to Ross Newhan of the L.A. TIMES. The proposal would "require credits of $50[M]," and Broad also said that Fox "must agree to loan him $80[M], interest-free, for four years, or provide a credit of $16[M]." L.A. Mayor James Hahn confirmed Broad's proposal, saying that he had urged Broad to step forward "amid concerns from baseball officials and fans that McCourt might be stretched too thin financially to field a highly competitive ballclub." Newhan noted McCourt has until January 31 "to complete the transaction, or he will have to pay a significant penalty and lose his exclusive negotiating rights." A Fox Group official said that company execs "were not entertaining Broad's offer and were pressing ahead with McCourt." But an MLB official said that the league "is well aware of Broad and his resume," adding, "It stands to reason he could move through the approval process very quickly if it came to that." Sources indicated that former Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley also "encouraged Broad to get involved." One source said that Broad "would work strictly in the background and hire a respected baseball person to run the Dodgers," and that Broad "has no interest in relocating Dodger Stadium" to downtown L.A. (L.A. TIMES, 1/17).

BROAD-SIDE: In L.A., Bill Plaschke reported O'Malley would be Chair of Broad's group, and Broad would be the principal owner with O'Malley as an investor. One local business exec said, "Somebody in baseball must have already told Eli that [McCourt's] deal is in trouble, or he never would have gotten involved" (L.A. TIMES, 1/18). The L.A. TIMES' Newhan cited a source who said that McCourt "tried to interest [Broad] in a partnership role" in his first efforts to find investors in his Dodgers bid. The source: "Eli concluded he couldn't invest in anything McCourt controlled" (L.A. TIMES, 1/18). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck wondered, "Why would News Corp. want to sell to McCourt, taking back a loan of more than $200[M], when it only would need to make a four-year, $80[M] loan to Broad?" Dilbeck, on Broad: "He's a local guy with impeccable credentials who has stepped up. It's what Dodgers fans have been wanting, what the franchise warrants" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/18).

MCCOURT: Also in L.A., Rich Hammond cited a source as saying of McCourt, "I'd give him three years before he has to sell the team. He will either realize he can't do it, or he just won't be able to make payroll." Sports Business Group Principal David Carter, on McCourt: "It's like a high school kid who convinces his dad to buy him a car. He gets the car, but then he realizes he can't afford to buy the gas. I think Dodger fans should be concerned that, in this case, they're going to be the ones buying the gas." Hammond cited sources as saying that McCourt "has been rejected by several potential partners because of concerns about his finances and because investing in the Dodgers is considered risky business" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/18).

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