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Dodgers, MLB agree on sale of team

In this file photo, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is congratulated by third base coach Larry Bowa. (Tony Tribble)
November 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball announced Tuesday night that they have agreed to a "court supervised process to sell the team."

Owner Frank McCourt had reportedly been trying to work out an agreement with MLB on the sale of the storied franchise.

In a joint statement released by the Dodgers and the league, both parties said the agreement also includes the sale of team media rights "to maximize value for the Dodgers and their owner, Frank McCourt."

According to the statement, the Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process.

Citing people familiar with the negotiations, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday that McCourt would get some control over the sale that would include Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots. The package could command a record price of $1 billion or more, the Times reported.

McCourt took the Dodgers into bankruptcy court to try to force the league to allow him to sell the TV rights to help pay for the team's expenses. A hearing on that was scheduled for this week, but was abruptly canceled Friday.

"When I saw that it sounded to me like a settlement was in the works that would probably included a sale of the Dodgers," said Robert Rasmussen, dean of USC Gould School of Law and expert in bankruptcy law. "From an ordinary fan's perspective, the nice thing about the sale is that it gets the assets out of bankruptcy. The Dodgers would be out of bankruptcy."

The Dodgers' season was marred by a near-fatal beating at the home opener, low paid attendance and allegations that McCourt "looted" $189 million from the team.

McCourt's lengthy divorce with estranged wife Jamie McCourt played out in public. It highlighted decadent spending on mansions and beach homes and using the team as if it were their personal credit card. According to divorce documents, they took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodgers-related businesses for their own use.

The couple was also in a dispute over ownership of the team. Frank McCourt eventually won that battle.

McCourt and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig have been at odds since April when the league took control of day-to-day operations due to concerns about the team's finances and the way it was being run.

McCourt vowed to never give up the team.

According to the Times, Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, said he offered to buy the Dodgers several months ago but declined to enter negotiations when McCourt said the price would be in the range of $1 billion to $1.2 billion.

Cuban reportedly remains interested in buying the Dodgers should that price come down.


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