If Frank McCourt’s fight to remain owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers seemed long and arduous, it was — after all, he had to fight his ex-wife Jamie with one hand and baseball commissioner Bud Selig with the other. If the end of that fight seemed to come fast and easy, well, it kinda did. Here’s the release from Major League Baseball that came out tonight announcing a deal to sell one of the most popular and lucrative franchises in sports:
“The Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball announced that they have agreed today to a court supervised process to sell the team and its attendant media rights in a manner designed to realize maximum value for the Dodgers and their owner, Frank McCourt. The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale process.”
According to the L.A. Times, the sale would include the team, Dodger Stadium and its parking lots, which McCourt paid $421 million for in 2004. McCourt has put the current value of the team at more than $1 billion; Forbes said it is worth $800 million. Any new owner would certainly attract a lucrative TV rights contract — one worth more than the reported 20-year, $3 billion deal McCourt negotiated with current rightsholder Fox Sports that he said would have given him the cash to keep the team. Selig rejected that contract, however, saying too much of upfront cash was going to McCourt (the league later claimed in court documents that McCourt “looted” the team to the tune of $189 million since taking ownership in 2004; McCourt denies the allegations). MLB took over financial operations of the Dodgers just after opening day 2011, and McCourt took the team into bankruptcy protection in late June to force a TV rights deal. Now, any TV deal would come via an open auction that could draw Fox Sports and regional rival Time Warner Cable as well as potentially DirecTV and Dish Network to the nation’s second-largest TV market.