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. Read more…

Selig Forced FRANKenstein Monster On Dodgers

As Los Angeles Dodgers fans celebrate the demise of Frank McCourt’s appalling stewardship of the Dodgers the past seven years, somehow Bud Selig has emerged in the media as a heroic figure swooping in to save the day.

FRANKenstein Monster & Dr. Selig

(Dr. Selig: No Choice Now But To Slay His Very Own L.A. Creation)

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It was Selig who, in January 2004, ignored a nearly all-cash $430 million offer for the Dodgers by local L.A. billionaire business magnate Eli Broad after MLB owners initially refused to ratify McCourt’s purchase of the Dodgers from News Corp. at the same price.

On Jan. 28, 2004, longtime LOS ANGELES TIMES baseball writer Ross Newhan noted the following as part of the newspaper’s timeline chronicling McCourt’s pursuit of the Dodgers:

Jan. 9, 2004: With financing concerns lingering, Selig calls off Jan. 14-15 vote but expects sale to be approved in a conference call before Jan. 31.

The day after that vote was called off, Newhan reported on Jan. 10, 2004:

Selig seldom calls for a vote unless he knows the outcome and it would be a surprise if a conference call produced a rejection, although there has been some speculation that the commissioner — intent on satisfying News Corp.’s determination to sell the team after a protracted process in which negotiations with two other bidders, Dave Checketts and Malcolm Glazer, ultimately broke down — would usher it through the full course and then let the owners decide if there were reason to be concerned about the financing.

McCourt was not included on Forbes’ most recent list of the 400 richest Americans (requiring a net worth of $600 million) and was a distant loser in bidding for the Boston Red Sox, but he owns valuable waterfront property in Boston that he reportedly is using as collateral in financing the acquisition.

11 days after Selig determined that he did not have the necessary MLB owner votes needed to ratify McCourt’s bid for the Dodgers, Newhan reported in the L.A. Times on Jan 20, 2004:

[Los Angeles developer and billionaire philanthropist Eli] Broad, whose net worth has been estimated at $3.8 billion, notified News Corp. (Dodgers Owners) Chairman Peter Chernin by letter last Wednesday that he was willing to offer the same $430 million if McCourt’s deal fell through.

His involvement, coming at the urging of Mayor James K. Hahn and former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley, among others, seemed to amplify concern in and out of baseball about McCourt’s ability to operate the Dodgers at an acceptable level and about the fact that he is proposing to invest little or none of his own money, with News Corp. loaning him almost half the $430 million.

McCourt needs three-fourths approval of the 30 owners, but the ownership committee has yet to recommend approval or rejection, and Commissioner Bud Selig has yet to schedule a conference call during which owners would vote on the sale.

Selig seldom puts an issue up for a vote unless he knows the outcome, which in most cases is to rubber-stamp his desires. ..

.. Whether Selig is determined to have McCourt approved as a favor to News Corp. because of its national and regional TV contracts with baseball or whether he would let owners reject the sale, feeling that he could tell News Corp. that he had done everything he could, isn’t clear.

If Selig’s intentions weren’t clear at that point, perhaps they should’ve been.

On Oct. 12, 2003, four months before MLB owners balked at approving McCourt’s stewardship of the Dodgers, ESPN.com reported of Selig’s stance on McCourt’s future ownership of the storied Los Angeles franchise:

A day after News Corp. reached an agreement in principle to sell the Dodgers to Boston real estate magnate Frank McCourt for $430 million, MLB commissioner Bud Selig expressed confidence the deal would be completed despite questions about whether McCourt had sufficient financial backing.

“I’m not concerned,” Selig said Saturday about the proposed sale that still must be approved in a vote of baseball owners.

McCourt’s financing remains unclear, baseball officials said, and his partnership has not been completed. A report from Boston indicated that McCourt might sell or find development partners for his properties there to help pay for the Dodgers.

Thanks to a report less than a month ago by FORBES magazine, we now know the financing McCourt used to somehow satisfy News Corp’s $430 million asking price - and the approval of Selig and at least 75% of MLB owners. Read more…