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Volume 24 No. 155


The Dodgers have spent through their $35M in '11 TV rights fee payments from Fox, according to new documents filed late yesterday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The club filed a proposed six-month budget as part of its ongoing bankruptcy case, and it showed no money due from Fox, indicating the $35M owed for the year has already been paid. Over-the-air TV partner KCAL-CBS, meanwhile, still owes the Dodgers three monthly payments of $1.277M. The club pays $1.167M per month, or $14M per year, in rent. The Dodgers' regular payroll obligations are about $10M twice each month during the season, while the recent and much-discussed deferred compensation involving former LF Manny Ramirez and others totaled $29.2M. The Dodgers additionally have spent $325,000 to retain Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the law firm representing them in the bankruptcy case (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

GETTING IT OUT IN THE OPEN: In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes the Dodgers "might not emerge from Bankruptcy Court for months," but MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "alluded Tuesday to the future of the team without Frank McCourt as its owner." Selig "avoided speaking directly about McCourt" yesterday. But a source indicated that the commissioner is "determined to oust McCourt and has not heard from any other owner concerned enough about the costs and risks of the bankruptcy fight to suggest yielding to McCourt." The source said that Selig "has no intention of considering any settlement under which McCourt would retain ownership" (L.A. TIMES, 7/13). Both Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said they were deeply troubled by the ongoing Dodgers bankruptcy case. Selig, predictably, chose his words carefully, said, "There are a lot of things I'd like to say, but I can't." But he referred to the Rangers bankruptcy case last year and the team's run of on- and off-field success since then, perhaps looking forward to a Dodgers era without McCourt. Weiner, meanwhile, said the union is "more than concerned" about the Dodgers, particularly given their impaired ability to win amid such dire financial conditions. "We want the Dodgers players to have the best chance to compete," he said. "It's not good for anybody for the Dodgers to struggle, to be compromised, to be crippled, whatever word you want to use. The Dodgers should be a flagship franchise of the league" (Fisher). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy asked Selig yesterday how McCourt "was allowed to buy the Dodgers." Selig said, "Seven or eight years ago we had long, complicated ownership processes. Far more than we’ve ever had. ... There was no other application submitted to us, and it was something Fox really wanted to get done. And so that’s the answer to your question." He added, "We’ll work our way through all these things. This sport is so healthy and so robust in terms of popularity. We’ll work our way through this. Life doesn’t always work out exactly the way you want it to" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/13).

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday spoke “in generalities” about the Rays’ “attendance problems but declined to say much more,” according to John Romano of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES. Selig said the Rays are “a terrific organization, very competitive, more competitive even this year than people thought they would be.” Selig: “The first thing I do every day is look at the 15 attendances to see how we're doing, and I agree with [Rays Owner] Stu Sternberg: You have to be concerned. He has to be. If you want to put a competitive club on the field, there has to be revenue to support it. And they've done a brilliant job, but this year (attendance) has surprised me." The Rays are last in the AL in attendance “with an average of 19,115 fans per game,” a 14% “decrease from the same point last season.” Romano notes a homestand beginning Friday featuring the Red Sox and Yankees “could be an interesting barometer with the Rays chasing both in the AL East.” MLB Exec VP/Administration & CIO John McHale said that the league “continues to have faith in Tampa Bay as a market.” But when asked if the Rays need a new stadium in Tampa, McHale said, "I don't think I'm allowed to have an opinion on that. I'll leave that to the owners in Tampa Bay" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 713). Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Paul Hoynes notes the Indians rank 26th in MLB in attendance, drawing 949,809 at Progressive Field. But Selig "does not share the same concerns about Cleveland as he does about Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla." Selig: "Not that I'm a front runner, but the first two games I note with interest, and I have 15 games to watch on my satellite dish, are Pittsburgh and Cleveland No.2. I'm enjoying those two situations very much. I really think the demographics in the areas are strong" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/13).

SLOW BUT SURE: Selig’s task force studying stadium options for the A’s is now in its 30th month, with no endpoint in sight. But the commissioner, as he has many times in the past, said, “It is better to be right than to be fast.” Selig cited the Expos’ relocation to DC, another protected, multiyear process, as support for his ongoing deliberativeness. “That took a long time, but it’s worked out well. There were a lot of lessons learned” (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). When asked about the length of the investigation, the future of the A's in Oakland or San Jose, and the Giants' territorial rights to the South Bay, Selig said, "We're working all that out. The committee has come back. There's a myriad of options. There's a lot of stuff we studied. The one thing I want to be sure about is to look at every conceivable option and analyze all of them" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/13)

SALES UPDATES: Selig yesterday also confirmed that he "has cleared" hedge fund manager David Einhorn to purchase a share of the Mets. Selig said, “Once the financial deal is done, yes. He played baseball in my backyard. How can I turn him down?” Einhorn "spent part of his formative years in Milwaukee, and his best friend lived next door to the Seligs." Selig said he was “not concerned” about the loan design of the deal. Selig: “It’s a very good deal for the Mets” (NEWSDAY, 7/13). The Mets yesterday before Selig’s comments said their owners were “engaged in exclusive, positive discussions” with Einhorn and declined further comment (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/13). Meanwhile, Selig said the sale of the Astros by Drayton McLane to Jim Crane is “going smoothly” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/13).