SBD/March 28, 2011/Franchises

McCourt Declines To Discuss Dodgers Ownership In First Camp Appearance

It remains unclear if McCourt can finance the Dodgers and his divorce
Frank McCourt "declined to comment on the Dodgers' unsettled ownership situation" on Friday when he met with reporters "for the first time since spring training camp opened," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt, who had not seen the Dodgers play this spring until Friday's game against the D'Backs, "specifically declined to explain how he could be so confident that he would retain sole ownership of the team amid significant legal and financial hurdles." He said that he "would address the ownership situation at a later date." Attorneys for McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie, are "engaged in settlement discussions aimed at resolving a divorce that has left ownership of the Dodgers in dispute." It is "uncertain how McCourt could finance a divorce settlement and manage the Dodgers' stiff debt as well" (LATIMES.com, 3/25). An L.A. DOWNTOWN NEWS editorial stated, "Given this state of affairs, it is time for the McCourts to move on." It is time for the McCourts to "swallow their pride and to let someone who really cares about the team and the city, and someone with the resources to make the Dodgers competitive and the stadium experience enjoyable and efficient, take over" (LADOWNTOWNNEWS.com, 3/25).

RESTLESS NIGHTS FOR SELIG: In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is "obsessed with his legacy, which, after the steroids scandal, is again being threatened by the serious debt problems" of the Mets and Dodgers. Forbes as part of its MLB valuations suggests that Selig "turned a blind eye to the growing financial woes" of the two NL clubs because McCourt and Mets Owner Fred Wilpon "have always been reliable big market allies for the commissioner." Madden noted it was "no surprise the day after the magazine hit newsstands came the report that Selig is planning on tightening up the MLB debt rule, which currently requires teams to maintain 60% assets to 40% liabilities, supposedly." This issue, "directly tied to Selig's legacy, will be coming to a head in the upcoming MLB labor negotiations with the players' union." One industry source noted that the failure of small-market franchises to "use their revenue-sharing booty on players has now become exacerbated by the debt-ridden situations of the large-market Mets and Dodgers" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/27). In Oakland, Monte Poole wrote, "If there is an owner Selig wants to dump, it's Frank McCourt, whose stewardship of the Dodgers has been by turns bizarre and inept, and whose messy divorce is both a financial beehive and an ongoing embarrassment to the, ahem, sanctity of the sport. If there is an owner whose predicament gnaws at Bud, it's Fred Wilpon." With McCourt as the "tack in Bud's loafers and the Wilpons as a constant case of heartburn, it's easy to imagine Selig nudging them toward the same door through which the minority owners of the old Expos were tossed." Poole: "Bud would be happier, healthier and more willing to embrace retirement when his term ends after the 2012 season" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 3/27).
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