SBD/July 13, 2011/Franchises

Dodgers Have Already Spent All $35M In '11 Rights Fee From Fox

Dodgers pay $14M annually in rent to play at Dodger Stadium
The Dodgers have spent through their $35M in '11 TV rights fee payments from Fox, according to new documents filed late yesterday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The club filed a proposed six-month budget as part of its ongoing bankruptcy case, and it showed no money due from Fox, indicating the $35M owed for the year has already been paid. Over-the-air TV partner KCAL-CBS, meanwhile, still owes the Dodgers three monthly payments of $1.277M. The club pays $1.167M per month, or $14M per year, in rent. The Dodgers' regular payroll obligations are about $10M twice each month during the season, while the recent and much-discussed deferred compensation involving former LF Manny Ramirez and others totaled $29.2M. The Dodgers additionally have spent $325,000 to retain Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the law firm representing them in the bankruptcy case (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

GETTING IT OUT IN THE OPEN: In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes the Dodgers "might not emerge from Bankruptcy Court for months," but MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "alluded Tuesday to the future of the team without Frank McCourt as its owner." Selig "avoided speaking directly about McCourt" yesterday. But a source indicated that the commissioner is "determined to oust McCourt and has not heard from any other owner concerned enough about the costs and risks of the bankruptcy fight to suggest yielding to McCourt." The source said that Selig "has no intention of considering any settlement under which McCourt would retain ownership" (L.A. TIMES, 7/13). Both Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said they were deeply troubled by the ongoing Dodgers bankruptcy case. Selig, predictably, chose his words carefully, said, "There are a lot of things I'd like to say, but I can't." But he referred to the Rangers bankruptcy case last year and the team's run of on- and off-field success since then, perhaps looking forward to a Dodgers era without McCourt. Weiner, meanwhile, said the union is "more than concerned" about the Dodgers, particularly given their impaired ability to win amid such dire financial conditions. "We want the Dodgers players to have the best chance to compete," he said. "It's not good for anybody for the Dodgers to struggle, to be compromised, to be crippled, whatever word you want to use. The Dodgers should be a flagship franchise of the league" (Fisher). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy asked Selig yesterday how McCourt "was allowed to buy the Dodgers." Selig said, "Seven or eight years ago we had long, complicated ownership processes. Far more than we’ve ever had. ... There was no other application submitted to us, and it was something Fox really wanted to get done. And so that’s the answer to your question." He added, "We’ll work our way through all these things. This sport is so healthy and so robust in terms of popularity. We’ll work our way through this. Life doesn’t always work out exactly the way you want it to" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/13).
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