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SBD/November 4, 2011/FranchisesPrint All
Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt's divorce settlement was "made official Thursday," and the binding agreement indicates that McCourt "must pay his former wife and ex-team CEO Jamie McCourt $131 million by the end of April," according to Greg Risling of the AP. The agreement "calls for the lump sum to be paid in cash and would be tax-free." If McCourt "comes up with the money before April 30, 2012, $1 million per month will be shaved from his tab" (AP, 11/3). Under the settlement agreement, McCourt also "surrendered his claim to what had been his Los Angeles homes." Jamie McCourt "kept four homes -- two in Malibu, one in Holmby Hills and one in Vail, Colo." McCourt "kept two homes, both in Massachusetts." (LATIMES.com, 11/3). The NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL's Amanda Bronstad reported the sale of the Dodgers coupled with McCourt's divorce settlement "could help winnow any damages in a malpractice claim" by McCourt against Bingham McCutchen, the law firm that "drafted an invalid marital agreement at the heart of his divorce" (NLJ.com, 11/2). Meanwhile, Tom Girardi, the attorney representing Giants fan Bryan Stow's family in its lawsuit against McCourt and the Dodgers following the Opening Day beating outside Dodger Stadium, Thursday said he has approached MLB about working out a "reasonable settlement" for the case now that McCourt has agreed to sell the team. ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne noted the Stow family "is currently McCourt's largest unsecured creditor." Girardi has previously estimated that "damages in the case could be as much as $50 million." That debt "would be assumed by whomever buys the team from McCourt in the auction, if it isn't settled in advance" (ESPNLA.com, 11/3).
WHO'S GOT NEXT? ESPN L.A.'s Shelburne notes White Sox Special Assistant to the Chair Dennis Gilbert is the "insiders' pick to buy the team because of his high standing in baseball circles and close ties to" MLB Commissioner Bud Selig through White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf (ESPNLA.com, 11/4). ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi reports former Dodgers Exec VP & GM Fred Claire has "joined an investment group attempting to buy the Dodgers." But Claire said Thursday that the group is "still seeking the primary financial backer" (ESPNLA.com, 11/4). Claire acknowledged that "without very wealthy investors, his bid will not go anywhere." He said, "We’re out there giving our story and letting people know what we believe. We need someone with the lead role, as principal, with the financial wherewithal" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/4). In L.A., T.J. Simers writes former Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley, who has expressed interest in once again owning the team, is the "wrong person to replace" McCourt. O'Malley "will be the sentimental choice, maybe the most popular one, to make folks feel good again about the Dodgers, but only by those struck by amnesia." The Dodgers were "irrelevant under O'Malley his last nine years on the job, as horrible a thing as anyone can say about a sports team" (L.A. TIMES, 11/4). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "If baseball wanted Mark Cuban in their little country club, he’d already be in their little country club, because he’s knocking on the door" ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 11/3). In L.A., Rick Orlov reports the public "would be allowed to purchase shares in the Dodgers and other professional sports teams under federal legislation introduced Thursday" by U.S. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). But Hahn acknowledged that even "if the bill were to pass, it probably wouldn't be in place in time to affect the expected bankruptcy auction of the Dodgers" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/4). An L.A. DAILY NEWS editorial states, "After committing an error by accepting McCourt in 2004, baseball should do L.A. a favor by finding us an owner with local roots, baseball savvy and unquestionable financial means" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/4).
BROADCAST RIGHTS: News Corp. President, COO & Deputy Chair Chase Carey believes his company will be able to "navigate Southern California reasonably well," even without buying the Dodgers. But CABLEFAX DAILY reports Fox Sports "must extend the Dodgers rights it controls through next year or face the specter of sapped relevance in the market." FS West and Prime Ticket currently "double-teams SoCal with sports content from teams including the Dodgers," Lakers and USC. But Time Warner Cable "dribbled in to wrest the Lakers rights away and will use them to launch 2 area RSNs." The MSO is "also part of a cable consortium slated to feature 6 RSNs as part of the Pac-12 Nets, which means Fox can kiss goodbye to USC and UCLA, too." At the "very least, there'll be exhaustive financial analysis of the potential lost rev from the departing properties and potential shuttering of 1 net vis a vis the costs associated with the Dodgers rights." Time Warner "remains the wild card." The MSO could "go after the Dodgers rights to further establish its foothold in the L.A. sports scene, thus gaining additional brand equity and serious leverage in carriage negotiations with Fox" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 11/4)
Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos on Thursday announced “a group of 10 new partners in the ownership of the team," and nine of them "are based in North Carolina," including Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Karmanos said that “two investment partners chose to keep their partnerships private.” He added that he had “sold about $22 million in equity of the franchise, and was looking to sell another $20 million in equity in the next six months.” Karmanos: "We've always gotten great support but always felt we needed local ownership.” Capitol Broadcasting President & CEO James Goodmon, one of the investors, said, "The two questions I have been asked the most are, 'Are you doing this so the Hurricanes don't leave?' and 'Do you think hockey can really work in Raleigh?' Those two questions should not be asked anymore. We're years beyond that. We're an NHL market." Rutherford said, "We have a good group of investors in the first round. Now we will meet with other people for another group in the next few months. We'll see where it goes. I think more will want to jump on board." Karmanos said that “another important step would be to increase the season-ticket base from 13,000 to 14,000.” He added that doing so “would allow the team to spend more on player salaries and better compete with teams such as the Washington Capitals that spend close to the NHL salary cap” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/4). AHL Charlotte Checkers Owner Michael Kahn, one of the Hurricanes' new investors, declined to disclose “how much of the team he bought or the amount of his investment, saying only that it was an excellent opportunity.” Kahn: “Ultimately, we have the same goal: we want to build hockey in this region and across the state” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/3).HURRICANES INVESTORSHurricanes President & GM Jim RutherfordAHL Charlotte Checkers Owner Michael KahnFormer Red Hat Chair & CEO Matthew SzulikCapitol Broadcasting CompanyIce Puck LLCClancy & Theys ConstructionHurricanes Investment LLCWhitney Holdings
ESPN L.A.’s Tony Jackson cited a source as saying that Dodgers Assistant GM DeJon Watson on Thursday “withdrew from consideration for the GM vacancy” with the Orioles (ESPNLA.com, 11/3). ESPN.com’s Buster Olney wrote the Orioles “have a significant perception problem now, slowing down a team already viewed within the industry as one that is all horse-and-buggy in a wireless world.” New Angels GM Jerry Dipoto “essentially withdrew from consideration for the Orioles' GM job when he was their top choice.” Then, a “couple of days ago, Toronto Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava rejected the Orioles' offer to be their GM.” There are “other highly regarded assistant GMs who have not yet been interviewed by the Orioles who feel the same way, some telling friends that if Baltimore called, they would not be interested.” The concerns outsiders have about the Orioles is that Owner Peter Angelos “interferes in the day-to-day business," and that manager Buck Showalter is "too powerful for the next general manager to walk into the front office and have the kind of influence he needs” (ESPN.com, 11/3).
BAIT & HOOK: ESPN’s Jason Stark said of the available free agents in MLB, “The Marlins are a team trying to do something big for the sake of credibility and what gives a team more credibility than signing (free agent 1B) Albert Pujols. They’re also trying to position themselves as Latin America’s team, so Albert fits there.” Stark asked, “How about the Marlins with (free agent SS) Jose Reyes? Again, if they’re looking to make a splash, they’re looking to position themselves as Latin America’s team. (Marlins SS) Hanley Ramirez has already said he’d move to third base or somewhere else if they can sign Jose Reyes. I can see Jose fitting in that community” (“OTL,” ESPN, 11/3).
MOVIN' ON UP: Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad was asked about the team’s likely new TV deal with Fox and whether the increased revenues will translate into a higher payroll. Moorad: “The fans in San Diego certainly expect a higher investment next season and that’s what we’ve committed to. Our payroll will move up probably about 15%. We’ll spend somewhere in the mid 50’s next year with the idea we’ll continue growing the payroll” (“Sportfolio,” Bloomberg TV, 11/2).
STAYING PUT: D’Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall on Thursday said that GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson “were rewarded with new contracts.” Hall said that he gave them “three-year contracts with club options for two more years, meaning they could be locked up through 2016.” Towers and Gibson “each entered the year on two-year contracts” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/4).
DOUBLING UP: In Boston, Matt Pepin noted a “second outdoor hockey doubleheader will be played at Fenway Park this winter as part of the Frozen Fenway 2012 event.” Boston College will face Northeastern on Jan. 14, and the game “will be preceded by a high school hockey matchup.” A Hockey East doubleheader featuring Vermont-UMass and New Hampshire-Maine “previously scheduled for Jan. 7 has sold out” (BOSTON.com, 11/3).