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Major League Baseball takes over Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp, center, is mobbed at the plate after he hits a game winning two-run home run to beat the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 17, 2011. (Alex Gallardo)

April 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Major League Baseball took over operation of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.

The takeover came in the wake of recent woes for the Dodgers.

Frank McCourt, owner of the Dodgers, reportedly faced financial troubles as a result of his divorce with wife Jamie, a co-owner. The two have had a prolonged court battle for full ownership of the team.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a release Wednesday that he will appoint a representative to oversee the "business and the day-to-day operations of the Club."

McCourt reportedly sought a $30 million loan for the team recently from the team's television broadcasting partner in order to make the organization's payroll, according to the L.A. Times. Last year, McCourt had sought a $200 million loan from the broadcaster, but that deal was not approved by Major League Baseball.

Selig said he took action "because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers."

Selig said he will announce the new team head in the next several days.

Jamie McCourt issued a statement in response to Wednesday's MLB announcement: "As the 50 percent owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the Commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise and for Dodgers fans everywhere."

Wednesday night, Frank McCourt released a statement: "Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30 teams must follow. The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the Commissioner's action today."

Dodgers attendance this year is at 70 percent of capacity, on average, since opening day. But it may be more than the Dodgers with financial problems. Major League Baseball is going through tough times.

The Texas Rangers filed for bankruptcy and the New York Mets are in financial trouble.

A recent article on Forbes Magazine's website says court records show the Dodgers in debt to the tune of $459 million. Forbes estimates most of the team's profits are being used just to pay the interest on that debt.

According to Forbes, much of the debt is the result of the McCourts' personal expenses, mostly spent prior to their now hotly contested divorce, in 2004 to 2009.

New York Mets operating losses are an estimated $6.2 million. The team organization has a mountain of bills and difficulty getting a loan from the banks. Major League Baseball needed to give the Mets an emergency loan of $25 million.

The Texas Rangers were forced to file for bankruptcy a year ago.

For now it is stormy weather for Major League Baseball but the prospects are good, especially if the National Football League continues with their lockout of the players when the season is supposed to start at the end of summer. Baseball might be the only game in town, so to speak.