SBD/Issue 245/Franchises

Frank McCourt Claims Jamie Wanted The Marital Agreement

Frank Claims Jamie Wanted No
Financial Exposure With Dodgers

Frank McCourt Thursday testified that the marital property agreement he signed in '04 with his estranged wife, Jamie, "was negotiated at Jamie's insistence," and that it was his understanding that she "could not be a co-owner of the Dodgers and yet retain the homes should the Dodgers falter," according to Shaikin & Hall of the L.A. TIMES. Frank, the only person to take the stand on the fourth day of the couple's divorce trial, testified that the "attorney who drafted the agreement, Larry Silverstein, had reviewed its meaning with the McCourts 'paragraph by paragraph' on the day they signed it." Frank said that he was "on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1980s," and that at that point the couple began "segregating business assets in Frank's name and residential property in Jamie's name." He said that Jamie was "adamant that she have no financial exposure" when the couple considered buying the Dodgers. The McCourts were "publicly introduced together as the new owners of the Dodgers in 2004, and they were identified as such in an accompanying news release." Frank during Thursday's testimony, however, claimed that "this was nothing more than a public relations myth." He said that he "wanted to emphasize that family ownership had returned to the team after six years under the corporate stewardship of Fox Entertainment Group." He added, "That was really to hearken back to the O'Malley days. It was a nicer, more comfortable, warmer way to refer to ownership." Frank on Wednesday during questioning from Jamie's attorneys testified that "he had 'put off' for nine months the attorney who repeatedly wondered why he had not signed the document that would have made the Dodgers community property, as Jamie had asked." He said Thursday, "I love my wife. It's as simple as that. She was trying very hard to convince me to sign the documents. She had basically put the marriage on the line." Jamie is expected to testify Friday, "after which the trial is scheduled to recess until Sept. 20" (L.A. TIMES, 9/3).

MLB TO BLAME? In Sacramento, Bill Bradley writes, "The divorce has exposed the financial lunacy of the Dodgers, who were bought on credit." It seems as if the Dodgers are an "underwater house caught in a divorce, and there's no way a short sale will help them soon." Some of the "blame must go to Commissioner Bud Selig," who "discouraged Mark Cuban from owning a team but let the McCourts into the club" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/3). The L.A. Times’ J.A. Adande said, "Maybe baseball should be put on trial for allowing these people to buy a team in the first place, let alone one of the most prestigious teams in all of the league. How did baseball let this highly leveraged deal go through in the first place and put itself in this position?” (“Around the Horn,” ESPN, 9/2).

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