The long, drawn-out and all-too-public battle between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball over control of the team finally appears to be coming to a close.
Late Tuesday McCourt reached an agreement to begin a “court-supervised process” to sell the Dodgers and its media rights to the league to maximize value for both team and owner. The sale of the team could also include Dodger Stadium.
Bud Selig and MLB took over day-to-day team operations back in April expressing concern that McCourt’s ongoing divorce proceedings were affecting his financial ability to run the franchise in the best interest of the team and its fans.
McCourt filed for bankruptcy protection in June after the league blocked a 17-year television deal with Fox that McCourt insisted he needed to keep the team financially viable.
“There comes a point in time when you say, ‘It’s time,’” a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press. “He came to that realization at the end of today.”
If the cacophony for change from a disgruntled fan base wasn’t enough to tip McCourt off that Dodgers supporters are ready for a change in ownership, the 21 percent drop in home attendance from last season should have done it.
McCourt’s divorce from Jamie McCourt included a public tug-of-war over the rights to the team, a battle Frank McCourt finally appeared to win last month when he gave his former wife a settled reported to be around $130 million in exchange for her willingness to drop her opposition to the bankruptcy proceedings.
But Selig has been steadfast in his efforts to remove McCourt from the equation, citing serious financial transgressions. In bankruptcy filings, MLB attorneys said McCourt “looted” more than $180 million in club revenues for personal use.
“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,” they wrote.
McCourt took ownership of the team seven years ago and during his tenure, the Dodgers made the playoffs four times.