The Delaware court that is sorting out the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chapter 11 filing has authorized the team to enter into a $150 million bankruptcy financing arrangement that will allow owner Frank McCourt to meet the Dodgers’ payroll obligations this week. The deal came together today as Major League Baseball dropped opposition to the financing after getting the Dodgers to agree to not auction off their broadcast TV rights for the next six months and seeing that a $4.5 million fee from the facility’s lender — JPMorgan Chase’s Highbridge Capital Management — be reduced to $250,000.
The TV rights are everything to McCourt now; he says that a deal in place with Fox Sports worth $3 billion over 17 years would put the team back on solid financial ground, but MLB commissioner Bud Selig would not approve the contract, saying too much of the upfront money would go to McCourt, not the franchise. A Dodgers lawyer told Bloomberg today that the team still has the right to propose a TV-rights auction while under court protection, so who knows what the league really gets out of that part of the agreement. One possibility is that Selig and the league will seize the Dodgers within that six-month time frame; baseball clearly believes the Dodgers and their TV rights are worth more on the open market if a new, more palatable owner (we’re talking to you, Mark Cuban) were to step up to the plate.