SBD/February 11, 2011/Franchises

MLB Expected To Take Wait-And-See Approach With Financially Troubled McCourt

MLB will not take over Dodgers despite McCourt's financial problems
MLB sources said Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt's financial problems are "serious, soon to be augmented by the payroll and day-to-day costs of running a team," but there will "not be a takeover" of the team by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The league is "expected to take the same approach with McCourt as it did" with former Rangers Owner Tom Hicks, as it likely will "stand by and just let events play out." McCourt "badly needs cash, and while he has looked for other investors, he has indicated no interest in selling off a large share of the team, in the way Fred Wilpon has" with the Mets. It appears that the problems of the Dodgers "are much more immediate than those of the Mets." However, the Mets' revenue stream "has shriveled substantially because of diminished ticket sales." The "decline of the Mets' coffers is to the point that some owners wonder if the team will be asked to contribute to the sport's revenue sharing fund -- which is almost unthinkable, given the Mets' standing in the sport's largest market" (ESPN.com, 2/11). In L.A., Bill Shaikin noted Selig "has so far resisted any deal in which Fox would pay McCourt a hefty sum in exchange for the Dodgers' long-term broadcast rights." The logic is that the "money Fox would pay should go to improve the team, not to pay off an ex-wife in a divorce settlement." The McCourt and Wilpon "sagas are far from over, and it is unclear whether either man can make good on his vow to maintain control of his team" (LATIMES.com, 2/9).

METS TAKEOVER ALSO UNLIKELY: FOXSPORTS.com's Rosenthal & Morosi cited sources as saying that a "takeover of the Mets by baseball is extremely unlikely." One source said such actions occur only as a "last resort." MLB "intervened with the Texas Rangers, loaning the club a reported $40 million, only when ... Hicks could not meet his payroll." The Mets are "not in nearly as dire a position." One AL team official said, "They still have a payroll of about $140 million. It's not as if all of a sudden they're the Pittsburgh Pirates" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/10).
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