Major League Baseball Asks Court To Force Frank McCourt To Sell The Dodgers
This is not a surprise, but it is quite something to see MLB lay out its case in black and white. The motion, posted after the jump, argues that Frank McCourt is using the Dodger bankruptcy "as a device to cure his own personal financial woes."
"Every dollar taken out of the Dodgers is a dollar that will not be available -- now and in the future -- to acquire new players, to meet future payroll obligations, to fund the stalled renovations to Dodger Stadium, to improve the Dodgers fan experience and to otherwise uphold the history and tradition of the Los Angeles Dodgers."
We've heard this all before, but again it's startling to see it stated so plainly in print.
Frank McCourt is asking the bankruptcy judge to void his contract with Fox, so that he can auction off the Dodgers' TV rights. That would give him the up-front cash he needs to keep the team on the field (and to pay off his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt).
But in its motion, MLB argues that McCourt cannot use the bankruptcy process to siphon off Dodger revenue for his personal use.
"A sale of Dodgers Media Rights without Major League Baseball approval would subject the Debtors to potentially severe discipline, including possible termination from the League... No one will pay the Debtors to broadcast Dodgers games if the Club is not part of Major League Baseball."
So it's come to this: A franchise that dates back to 1883 has been threatened with expulsion from the League. If that happens, maybe Frank can televise a bunch of split-squad games? L.A. fans could thrill to a pennant race between Dodgers A and Dodgers B.
Will the judge agree to force a sale? Well, in his ruling about interim financing, Judge Kevin Gross pointedly noted that McCourt has to cooperate with MLB if he hopes to "successfully operate a team within the framework of baseball."
MLB is saying that's impossible, and therefore the only remedy is a sale.
McCourt's PR people have issued a statement (next page) saying that MLB's motion is "meritless" and its inaccuracies are "offensive and too numerous to mention."
First, the MLB motion:
MLB Motion to Terminate