SBD/February 24, 2012/Franchises

Rick Caruso, Joe Torre Withdraw Dodgers Bid After Learning Parking Lots Not Included

Torre reportedly would reenter bidding if McCourt would agree to sell parking lots
L.A. developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre “have withdrawn a joint bid to buy the Dodgers,” according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Caruso and Torre in a letter to MLB last Friday cited outgoing Owner Frank McCourt's “refusal to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots in the sale.” Sources said that Caruso and Torre “would reenter the bidding if McCourt would agree to sell the parking lots.” McCourt has told people that he has “at least one bid in which the buyer would let him retain ownership of the parking lots.” Caruso and other bidders “thought the purchase of the lots would be negotiable.” But sources said that McCourt in a recent meeting with Caruso said that he “intends to keep the lots and develop them.” McCourt and his advisors “think the Dodgers can sell for at least $1.5 billion, even without the land.” But a source said that “at least one bid group discounted its offer by more than $300 million to account for the exclusion of the land.” Nine bidders “are thought to still be involved” (L.A. TIMES, 2/24). ESPN L.A. wrote the Caruso-Torre bid “has been considered one of the favorites, pairing a real estate developer with a former Dodgers manager who quit his job with MLB to join the chase for the team.” The refined bids “were due Thursday, after the groups had submitted documentation” to the league. McCourt's financial adviser, Blackstone Group, “must decide whether to drop any additional bidders before interviews are scheduled with baseball's ownership committee” (ESPNLA.com, 2/23).

NO CLEAN BREAK: ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne wrote Caruso and Torre “just reminded everyone of how dangerous it is to underestimate McCourt's avarice.” The “specter of a new ownership group that is in any way beholden or in business with McCourt is chilling.” With his “penchant for litigation and troublesome history with major league baseball and the city's fanbase, McCourt isn't a guy any good businessman would want to be in business with.” It has “always been assumed that the parking lots were negotiable,” and that is “still the assumption among many of the remaining groups.” A source said that there “haven't been serious negotiations for the parking lots yet.” Even if Caruso and Torre’s bid “wasn't going to be competitive,” the issue raised by Caruso's letter to MLB “is valid and no less troubling: There might not be a clean break from McCourt after all” (ESPN.com, 2/23).
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