11/02/11 9:00 PM ET
MLB expects progress on Dodgers sale 'soon'
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The buyer will have to be approved by MLB and the Delaware federal bankruptcy court -- run by Judge Kevin Gross -- that has control of the case. But there is no planned auction.When asked if there's a deadline or timeframe for this all to happen, the MLB official simply said: "Soon." The agreement between McCourt and MLB was announced at 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday. "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," read a joint statement from MLB and the Dodgers. "The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process." There has been conjecture in the media about who might buy the team, Dodger Stadium, the land it is built on and adjacent parking lots, plus media rights, for as much as $1 billion. Prominently mentioned have been former player agent and White Sox consultant Dennis Gilbert, who lives in the Los Angeles area; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who attempted to buy the Rangers last year; and also a group put together by former Dodgers players Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser. The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday night that former owner Peter O'Malley would like to return as the team's chief executive and will attempt to form an ownership group. "I want to reconnect the team and the community," O'Malley told The Times.
It was reported on Wednesday that News Corp., which owns FOX and a number of regional sports networks, has said it will not attempt to make an offer to buy the team. FOX Sports West has a long-term deal to broadcast the Dodgers and stands to benefit when the team is sold because the network has right of first refusal on any new media deal.McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie purchased the team after a long process just before the start of Spring Training in 2004 for the cost of $430 million that was mostly made up of loans and eventually property exchanges. McCourt is reported to owe in excess of $800 million on the team and must pay his former spouse $130 million in a recently agreed upon settlement between the two that lies outside the sale of the club. McCourt placed the Dodgers in bankruptcy earlier this year after MLB attempted to seize control of the team. He was hoping to survive by selling future media rights over the objections of MLB and FOX. MLB had asked the court to order a sale of the club, accusing McCourt of violating MLB rules by taking $190 million of team funds for personal use. The latter figure became public during the court proceedings surrounding the breakup of McCourt's 29-year marriage. It will be the third time in 13 years that one of baseball's most prestigious teams has changed hands. O'Malley sold the franchise to News Corp. in 1998 for $350 million after nearly 50 years of family ownership. His father, Walter, took over the old Brooklyn club after co-owner John L. Smith passed away in July 1950 and subsequently moved it to Los Angeles in time for the 1958 season.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.