SBD/April 24, 2012/Franchises

MLB Hopes To Learn From McCourt Era, Approaches Guggenheim Baseball With Caution

MLB is troubled it does not know details of Guggenheim, McCourt parking lot agreement
MLB will likely be rid of former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt "in a week, but the celebration is shrouded with caution," according to a sports-section cover story by Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. While McCourt's "reign has left the proud franchise in financial ruins, there are fears that baseball's rush to get rid of him could change the way teams are bought and sold." New Dodgers Owner Guggenheim Baseball Management hopes "to close the deal Monday, but unlike every other baseball franchise, the Dodgers' financial structure is not governed" by MLB. Sources said that only in the "last few days did MLB receive detailed financial information about the purchase agreement." MLB attorney Tom Lauria said in court that the league "still was troubled that it did not know details of the revenue-sharing arrangement between the Guggenheim group and McCourt involving the Dodger Stadium parking lots, which they will share equally." There is also a "fear among owners that there are confidential provisions in the agreement that could permit the Dodgers to circumvent aspects of MLB's revenue-sharing agreement with their regional sports network or new TV contract." The agreement between Guggenheim and McCourt "is confidential, and terms of the process were also confidential as ordered by the bankruptcy court." Dodgers attorney Bruce Bennett "declined to comment Monday beyond his statements in court." Three MLB owners question "how it's possible for the Dodgers to stay financially viable with the staggering price tag" of $2.15B. There are "lessons learned, and two members of MLB's ownership committee say the league will continue to tighten its regulations for prospective owners to prevent another McCourt catastrophe" (USA TODAY, 4/24).

THE WAY IT SHOULD BE: In Atlanta, David O'Brien wrote, "Since the Dodger franchise got out from under the dismal ownership tyranny of Frank McCourt four weeks ago ... I've looked forward to seeing Dodger Stadium again as we’re accustomed to seeing it." That is, with "energy emanating from the crowd and smiles on the faces of the courteous ushers, and with the beautiful, venerable ballpark hopefully spruced up and clean the way it was for decades until the O’Malleys sold the Dodgers and it slowly became Just Another Franchise under Rupert Murdoch and Fox, then something much worse under the feuding McCourt husband-and-wife tandem" (AJC.com, 4/23). 
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