Exclusive: MLB Wants AEG LA Downtown Ballpark

On July 20, 2011, in a Delaware bankruptcy court, current Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball legal representatives will present competing plans for interim financing for the club.

FRANKenstein Monster & Dr. Selig

(Bud Selig as Dr. Frankenstein)

While MLB contends it already has the right to seize the team from McCourt, who recently revealed the club is now $525 million in debt, Commissioner Bud Selig is clearly wary of a legal challenge from the Dodger team owner Selig handpicked to buy the team in 2004 for $430 million despite McCourt putting up only $9 million in cash.

Another reason MLB has yet to strongarm McCourt: He owns the land where the Dodgers currently do business.

After McCourt’s 2004 bid was selected by Selig over a L.A. Times-reported $430 million cash offer for the club by Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad, the Boston native and his wife Jamie McCourt split the team and surrounding acreage into separate business entities. At the time, McCourt’s hyper-leveraged purchase of the MLB franchise was valued at $330 million, with the accompanying real estate pegged at $100 million.

McCourt’s savvy business move means that even if Selig seizes the heritage baseball franchise from the Frankenstein monster he himself created, the league - and next owner of the team - could wind up with McCourt as its landlord.

That factual backdrop explains why in the past 48 hours multiple sources have confirmed to me that MLB has reached out to AEG to inquire about the possibility of the company assisting the league - and the next permanent owner of the team - in building a downtown ballpark for the Dodgers.

AEG already owns the Staples Center in downtown L.A. and has proposed a plan to the city of Los Angeles to build an NFL stadium in the same area - along with the renovation of a wing of the city’s dilapidated convention center.

A downtown Los Angeles stadium for the Dodgers would theoretically satisfy MLB’s desire to completely extract McCourt from any financial interest in the franchise while also boosting the financial fortunes of AEG’s L.A. Live development.

Talks between MLB and AEG remain in the formative stage, but I’ve been told that if such a plan were carried out, AEG would not have a controlling ownership interest in the Dodgers.

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