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SBD/September 26, 2011/Franchises
MLB Files Motion To Force Sale Of Dodgers, Indicates It Will Reject Any Deal For TV Rights
Published September 26, 2011
THE DODGERS' TAKE: The Dodgers, not surprisingly, took strong issue with MLB's move, and branded it "meritless." "The inaccuracies in the 'facts' recited in the motion and the false characterization of other matters are offensive and too numerous to mention," the club said in a statement. "MLB's motion also ignores the fact that the Commissioner has treated the Dodgers differently from other Major League Baseball Clubs and that the Commissioner's actions starved the Dodgers of cash and caused the bankruptcy filing." The Dodgers, expected to file a response to MLB's motion this week, added, "in U.S. bankruptcy reorganization cases, liquidation is the last resort, not the first option. ... The alternative offered today by Major League Baseball really amounts to an unnecessary and value destroying distressed sale." MLB's filing also yielded several other items related to the Dodgers' financial state. The league said the club's total debt is now approximately $500 million, and a planned $360 million renovation of Dodger Stadium is now on "indefinite hold." The league in a separate filing late Friday also petitioned the court to have the two lead firms representing the club in the bankruptcy case -- Dewey & LeBoeuf LLC and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLC -- disqualified. MLB asserts they are serving the aims of McCourt personally, and not those of the team or rest of MLB, presenting a conflict of interest (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
LEGALLY SPEAKING: Thomas Salerno, chief counsel for the Coyotes during the team's bankruptcy proceedings, called the MLB filing "gutsy." But he added that MLB "would not necessarily succeed." Salerno said that in the Dodgers' case, "by announcing its rejection of any television deal before an auction could take place, and by signaling its veto of a plan that McCourt could use to pay all the Dodgers creditors in full," the league could be seen as "not acting in good faith." Salerno: "I think MLB runs a risk that the judge says that's not reasonable. ... This case is clearly going to make law. The league is going all in" (L.A. TIMES, 9/24). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck reported MLB "cited fan sentiment on Friday in its request that Gross order the sale of the Dodgers" (LATIMES.com, 9/23).
THE GLOVES ARE OFF: ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne wrote a "very important thing happened Friday." Shelburne: "Baseball said it still cared. Enough to fight this all the way to the end, no matter how bitter or ugly things may get" (ESPNLA.com, 9/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote under the header, "McCourt-Selig Battle Is Getting Personal." Brown: "McCourt views Selig as the worst kind of bully: a megalomaniac with a grudge, a geek with a badge and sidearm. Selig has McCourt typecast as well, as a gluttonous, litigious and desperate squatter who'd sell Tommy Lasorda if it meant a new paint job for the pool" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/24). The L.A. TIMES' Dilbeck wrote MLB Friday "did away with the feints and jabs and the fancy footwork and just delivered a blow from the ankles." Dilbeck: "Pretense is no longer invited" (LATIMES.com, 9/23).