SBD/Issue 81/Franchises

Frank McCourt Meets With MLB About His Plan To Keep The Dodgers

McCourt Requested The Three-
Day Meetings At MLB Offices

Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt last week met for three days with MLB execs as Commissioner Bud Selig "considers options that could complicate McCourt's ability to remain in control of the team," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Sources said that McCourt met with "several of Selig's lieutenants -- but not with the commissioner himself -- from Monday through Wednesday" at MLB HQs in N.Y. The sources noted that McCourt "requested the meetings," during which he "outlined his legal and financial plans for retaining control of the Dodgers, amid divorce proceedings that started 15 months ago." Shaikin noted it is "uncertain exactly what McCourt proposed in his meetings, but he could get hundreds of millions of dollars by either negotiating a new television contract with Fox or selling a minority share of the Dodgers, then using the proceeds to settle his divorce." However, McCourt has said that he "has no plan to sell any share of ownership," and Selig "could reject any television contract or partnership agreement." One source indicated that after court documents in the divorce trial "revealed how the McCourts diverted millions in team revenue each year for personal use, Selig could cite grounds that such money should be used to improve the team rather than to pay off an ex-wife." The sources added that Selig also "could refuse McCourt the short-term financing available to owners from MLB." An MLB team owner said that he "doubted Frank McCourt could rally other owners behind him -- and against Selig -- should the commissioner decide to act." The owner added, "I can't imagine one vote going against Bud on anything having to do with the Dodgers" (L.A. TIMES, 1/8). ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the meetings are a "big deal, because while MLB cannot force him to sell directly, the other owners can essentially cut off his financial lifelines by not agreeing to his efforts to raise cash [and] squeeze out McCourt as the Dodgers' owner" (ESPN.com, 1/8).

WAITING ON DECK? In N.Y., Thompson & Madden cited sources as saying that former Dodgers manager Joe Torre "made overtures to Selig last summer about forming his own ownership group to buy the Dodgers should the McCourts be forced to sell the team." It is "unclear how the McCourt situation will be resolved but it could drag on indefinitely," so "depending on what happens to the team's ownership situation, Torre might be interested in a higher position with the Dodgers" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/8). Torre reportedly is also in talks to take a position in MLB's league office (THE DAILY).

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