SBD/December 7, 2011/Franchises

McCourt May Retain Control Of Dodger Stadium Parking Lots, Surrounding Land

McCourt can include stadium parking lots and surrounding land in sale or keep them
The settlement between MLB and Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, held from public view for more than a month since the initial Nov. 2 announcement of the deal, was finally filed late last night with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. In the pact, McCourt retains control over whether to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots and surrounding land in the sale of the team and ballpark, and may choose to keep them. Bidders may submit offers to buy the property, but any decision to sell those assets remains with McCourt. Among the other material terms of the deal:
  • MLB takes a position of non-involvement in the ongoing media rights battle between the Dodgers and Fox.
  • The incoming buyer retains full control over whether to enter into a new cable TV rights deal that McCourt wants to hold an auction for now.
  • A post-sale non-participation policy for McCourt stipulating that he and his relatives are barred from being formally involved with any buyer, media entity or financing vehicle connected with the team. McCourt is also barred from "retaining directly or indirectly any interests in the assets that compromise" the Dodgers. In the case of the parking lots, McCourt will be required to transfer a long-term lease to the new owner allowing use of the lots on game days. 
  • Cooperation by MLB to help the Dodgers complete its bankruptcy reorganization.

SALE TIMETABLE: The settlement also lays out an aggressive timetable for the sale of the team of taking initial bids on or before Jan. 13, with an auction completed by April 1 and a closed sale by April 30. "The agreement is a 'win-win' for not only the (Dodgers) and MLB but for all parties in interest in these bankruptcy cases, and should therefore be approved," the Dodgers said in a filing with the court (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC: An L.A. TIMES editorial states, "Although it's not imperative that the ballclub be owned by a local entity, it wouldn't hurt to have an owner rooted in the community." Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson, who is part of a bid group looking to buy the Dodgers, "has an extensive history as a local investor who helped revitalize South Los Angeles when corporate interests had shunned the area." The next owner of the Dodgers "should share his sensibility on how to run the team" and "see it as a civic asset, not just a piece of real estate" (L.A. TIMES, 12/6). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes, "Not all the potential bidders have spoken publicly and none of them have been as open as Johnson. Upon announcing his bid last week, he publicly positioned himself as a McCourt alternative whom McCourt should like" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7).
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Los Angeles Dodgers, Franchises

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