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SBD/July 22, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in an 11-page letter to Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt wrote that the proposed TV contract between the Dodgers and Fox that McCourt "presented as the team's financial salvation would instead have crippled the club's ability to compete and saddled McCourt and his affiliated companies with close to $1 billion in debt," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. In the previously unpublished letter, Selig wrote, "You would be continuing an eight-year pattern of exploiting the Dodgers franchise to finance your own personal needs, which would undoubtedly risk further erosion of public confidence in the Dodgers." The proposed deal "included an immediate payment of $385 million." Selig conceded that he "had approved upfront payments in the contracts of other clubs, but never one so large." He wrote, "No other owner has sacrificed so much of his team's future for an immediate payoff." Selig indicated that the money "would have helped McCourt settle his divorce and pay down some debts but could have put the Dodgers in financial crisis as soon as 2013." The letter said that if McCourt retained control of the Dodgers, the "large up-front payment would have minimized the amount available to improve the team in future years." If the team was sold, "the new owner would be locked into a deal without that upfront revenue or the chance to put the long-term rights up for bid." Selig also noted that he had "learned that the Internal Revenue Service is investigating McCourt's tax returns from 2006, 2007 and 2008." Selig: "What is more worrisome to me, however, is the thought of one of our owners engaging in a prolonged public dispute with the IRS." U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross did not rule Thursday "on whether the Dodgers would be financed through the bankruptcy proceedings by a loan arranged by McCourt or one offered by MLB" (L.A. TIMES, 7/22).