Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Better days ahead for the Los Angeles Dodgers – McCourt out!!

Late Tuesday evening Dodgers fans began to believe that one day soon their team would win its 7h World Series championship after current Dodgers owner Frank McCourt finally agreed to sell the team. Ding dong – the wicked owner is about to leave and Dodger Pride will be restored.

"The Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball announced that they have agreed today to a court supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designed to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner, Frank McCourt. The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process." reported there is no timetable a sale, although the sooner the better as far as Dodgers fans are concerned. The Dodgers may now be players in the free agent market likely to pursue Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.

"I have made this decision because I believe it is in the best interests of our organization, our loyal fans and the community at large," McCourt wrote in the e-mail to employees.

McCourt paid $421 million to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004. The Dodgers, one of sports more fabled sports franchises, have gone from baseball’s penthouse to the outhouse under McCourt’s rule.

This was largely because of McCourt’s very messy and public divorce from his ex-wife Jamie. The McCourt’s managed to settle their issues in October resulting in Frank gaining full control of the Dodgers.

Two years after the couple announced their separation, Frank McCourt agreed to pay Jamie $130 million. The sale of the Dodgers includes the team, Dodger Stadium and the team’s media rights.

McCourt had struck a deal with FOX to extend the current media rights for 17 years at $3 billion, but under the circumstances, MLB rejected the terms of that agreement. Ironically McCourt bought the Dodgers from Fox Broadcasting.

The final price for the Dodgers is expected to exceed $1 billion. On September 1 Bill Burke, founder of the L.A. Marathon, Chinese investors (two banks) and others, offered Frank McCourt $1.2 billion to buy the Dodgers. McCourt insisted at the time he wanted to remain the owner.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who lost out to Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg for the Texas Rangers, reportedly contacted “someone” who worked for Frank McCourt a few months back about buying the Dodgers. Cuban lost interest quickly when he learned the asking price would exceed a billion dollars.

Cuban, who has also showed interested in buying the Chicago Cubs, told the Los Angeles Times he remains interested in buying the Dodgers. For his part Cuban made it clear he doesn’t believe the Dodgers are worth anything close to a billion dollars.

“I don't think the Dodgers franchise is worth twice what the Rangers are worth," Cuban said.

That remains to be seen but when you consider the Rangers sold for $593 million and the sale of the Dodgers includes the team, Dodger Stadium and the media rights the Dodgers are worth a great deal more than the Texas Rangers.

A Los Angeles Times report suggested McCourt may have been able to sell the Dodgers for more than a billion to get out of the financial mess he’s in now. The $1 billion sale price is based on what McCourt needs to break even based on his debts and tax liabilities, according to court records in California and Delaware.

Is Mark Cuban going to walk away from an opportunity to own one of sport’s most iconic franchises after pursing two MLB franchises? You can count on the shrewd Cuban doing his best to get the deal he’s looking for if he pursues the Dodgers.

Cuban told the Los Angeles Times that his concerns included the additional costs of renovating Dodger Stadium and the prospect of competing against an NFL team coming to Los Angeles.

"Once the sale price gets too high, you can't invest in the team," said Cuban.

“The agreement between embattled owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball to sell the Dodgers puts this exactly where it needs to be---in front of an impartial federal bankruptcy judge to supervise a sale to the highest bidder,” says Professor Anthony Michael Sabino of St. John’s University’s Peter J. Tobin College of Business. “And that’s the operative principle; as a matter of bankruptcy law the Dodgers will be sold to the “highest and best” bidder. Expect spirited bidding for one of America’s most storied sports franchises.”

According to The Los Angeles Times, along with Cuban and the reported $1.2 billion offer from Bill Burke, others who might be interested in pursuing the Dodgers include: Chicago White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert, the former player agent who also bid on the Rangers.

Southern California businessmen Ron Burkle, Alec Gores and Alan Casden also could be bidders. Burkle and Gores have ties to professional sports and Casden pursued the Dodgers before McCourt bought them.

Other potential suitors include Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner, each of whom live in Los Angeles. Former Dodgers stars Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser also have expressed interest in putting together an investment group to bid on the team.

According to court papers filed the franchise doubled their revenues from $156 million in 2003 to $286 million in 2009.

"There comes a point in time when you say, 'It's time,'" a person familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because details of the negotiations had not been made public told The Associated Press. "He came to that realization at the end of today."

With light finally at end of the tunnel for the Dodger faithful, this quote from a baseball official sums up what happened.

“The Dodgers are in bankruptcy because Mr. McCourt has taken almost $190 million out of the club and has completely alienated the Dodgers’ fan base,” the baseball attorneys wrote.

The Dodgers bankruptcy reeks of a business run amok under Frank and Jamie McCourt.

"Frank and I enjoyed the many perquisites and benefits that come with owning a Major League Baseball team," she wrote in a court declaration.

In court documents Jamie McCourt wrote of combined salaries for both McCourt’s in excess of $7 million a year, $46 million to buy side-by-side oceanfront estates in Malibu, $27 million to buy side-by-side homes near the Playboy Mansion, additional properties in Massachusetts, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Mexico, $400 dinners and $1,000-a-night hotels, private jet travel around the world, even house calls from hairdressers and makeup artists.

Lavish, perverse and completely over the top to say the least. Whatever Jamie and Frank McCourt believed it took to own a sports franchise they seemingly forgot the responsibility that comes with owning any sports franchise.

You own the franchise in name only, the real owners are the fans who support and believe in their team.

For Dodgers fans “ding dong the wicked McCourt’s are gone”

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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