06-20-2011, 02:18 PM
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MLB rejects Dodgers’ television deal with Fox
So arrive what would appear to be the final days of Frank McCourt’s ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Commissioner Bud Selig has rejected McCourt’s stab at solvency in the form of a television rights deal, finding that the financing of yesterday’s debt (both personal and professional) with tomorrow’s revenue is not a sustainable business model.
McCourt was notified Monday that, in spite of the divorce settlement he reached Friday with ex-wife Jamie, Major League Baseball would not approve the 17-year, near-$3-billion contract with Fox, money McCourt has said he’d require to keep the Dodgers viable. The divorce settlement also was contingent on Selig’s approval of the Fox deal, as it was partly funded by the contract.
With a large payroll outlay due in 10 days, the fight has come again to McCourt, the feisty Bostonian whose choices seem limited: sell or sue.
If McCourt is unable to meet payroll, which includes more than $8 million in Manny Ramirez(notes) salary deferrals, baseball will cover it for him with the stipulation he put up for sale the team and its holdings. In the event McCourt refuses, the club will be seized and sold, with McCourt receiving the profits.
McCourt’s history suggests he is unlikely to go along. He could challenge Selig’s authority to block the deal with Fox, a legal battle Selig is believed to be prepared for.
Selig took control of the Dodgers’ finances two months ago, when he announced an investigation into team affairs and appointed a monitor – Tom Schieffer, later accompanied by John Allen – to oversee day-to-day matters.
Meantime, the Dodgers have struggled at the gate and in the standings. Dodger Stadium has been half-empty many nights: the club is on pace to draw fewer than 3 million over a full season for the first time in 19 years. Outspent on players by 11 teams and undone by injuries, the Dodgers are nine games under .500 and two games out of last place in the National League West.
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